By Mathew Carr
June 14-15, 2021: LONDON — Russia has suggested a couple of different ways of looking at the climate crisis, urging UN envoys debating new market incentives to recognise the importance of natural gas.
Nations are considering incentives under article 6 of the Paris climate deal, and are seeking to draw up a rule book that all governments are happy with by November, when envoys are expected to meet in Glasgow.
Russia also urged countries to allow article 6 to incentivize removals of carbon dioxide, which currently amount to about 6 billion tons of CO2 equivalent a year of emissions, or 11% of the global total, in a separate submission to the intersessional climate talks taking place virtually this week.
Russia is urging countries to focus on a metric called the “full-cycle carbon footprint,” which makes the best natural gas projects much more compelling when compared even with renewable power such as solar and wind.
Using carbon capture and storage technology, gas’s full-cycle footprint can be reduced by almost two thirds to about 170 grams of CO2 equivalent/kWh, Russia said in a submission to the UNFCCC, citing Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change data. Without the carbon capture a gas-generation plant may have about 490 grams.
That’s compared with 12 grams for nuclear and wind and 48 grams for solar.
When designing frameworks under Paris, “we have to create equal conditions for the entire range of technologies that can help us achieve net reductions in greenhouse gas emissions,” Russia said (see first link below).
“This approach will allow the mechanisms to be designed in the most inclusive way possible so they will be able to attract high-quality emission-reduction projects” — countries are allowed under the Paris deal to cooperate if they want, as they seek to achieve sustainable development.
It’s not surprising that Russia wants gas treated “inclusively” since its economy is based on producing fossil fuels and it’s the biggest exporter of gas. Gas generation can have an important role in filling the gaps when the wind isn’t blowing and the sun isn’t shining. Russia also has a huge landmass and ability to boost its ability to absorb CO2.
Climate action is also one of the few areas where countries including the U.S. are willing to cooperate with Russia.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken called completion of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline from Russia to Germany a “fait accompli” and said the U.S. is now working with Germany to limit how dependent Europe’s energy system will be on Russia after it is finished, Bloomberg News reported June 7 (see link below). The project had been held up because of U.S. sanctions.
The world can save the climate not just by cutting man-made emissions, but by boosting the land and water’s ability to absorb greenhouse gases from the atmosphere, weakening its ability to trap heat.
Baselines for forest projects “should be set according to the net anthropogenic removals on a given territory that would be achieved without project activity. Safeguards against leakages and reversals should be introduced as well,” Russia said.
Russia on use of full-cycle carbon footprint: https://www4.unfccc.int/sites/SubmissionsStaging/Documents/202106111651—RU%20Submission%20Low-Emissions%20Tech_.pdf
Russia on forest emission credits: https://www4.unfccc.int/sites/SubmissionsStaging/Documents/202106111649—RU%20Submission%20Absorption%20by%20Sinks_.pdf
Bloomberg story: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2021-06-07/blinken-says-nord-stream-2-s-completion-is-a-fait-accompli?sref=fcMjhrdB