Russia has defended its refusal to join a global methane pledge that was signed by over 100 countries, including the US, Japan and Canada, at recent COP26 climate summit in Glasgow, with presidential envoy on climate issues Ruslan Edelgeriyev insisting that the curb would impose an unacceptable burden on Russia.

Speaking at the Valdai Discussion Club in Moscow, Edelgeriyev said Russia will determine its own schedule for reducing methane emissions once measures to achieve the country's recently-announced goal of reaching net zero target by 2060, are drafted and approved by the government.

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With Russian state controlled monopoly Gazprom operating almost 180,000 kilometres of gas trunklines, the country is currently considered to have the highest volume of methane emissions in the world.

According to the International Energy Agency, Russia was responsible for about 20% of global methane leaks in 2020, or the equivalent of about 14,000 tonnes, with the US, Iran and Turkmenistan trailing after it.

Despite withdrawing its support for the methane pledge, Russian authorities consider other COP26-passed commitments to “be generally favourable” to the country’s plan of reach its own net zero goal.

Edelgeriyev said that Russia has “protected its interests” in considering forests a key element in achieving this goal, with the country joining other states in the declaration on forests and land use that pledge to end deforestation by 2030.

The carbon dioxide absorption capacity of forests is due to serve the core balancing factor in the Russian ongoing experiment to have one of its far eastern territories – the Sakhalin Island – achieving the net zero target by as early as 2026.

The island has already seen several carbon reduction initiatives announced, with Russian state nuclear conglomerate Rosatom now waiting for France’s Air Liquide to complete a feasibility study into building a blue hydrogen facility on Sakhalin.

The study is due to be presented in the beginning of next year, once Air Liquide researches the commercial feasibility of a proposed 100-tonne per day hydrogen facility, using natural gas.

The French company has been also asked to propose CO2 capture and storage solutions for the project, with marketing options such as ammonia production, transportation of gaseous hydrogen to a marine export port and liquefaction under consideration, according to a tender disclosure notice by Rosatom’s subsidiary, Rusatom Overseas.

According to Edelgeriyev, during their meetings at COP26, Russian delegates have been also successful in winning support from other governments for its plan to continue promoting nuclear power as a safe, “peaceful” and viable alternative to fossil fuels.

At the same time, Russia has remained outside the group of nations to have earmarked $100 billion in financing and contributions to poorer developing countries, Edelgeriyev said.

The goal of these grants is to support efforts by these states to address climate change and its impacts.

A prior target to provide $100 billion of climate finance by 2020 has been missed, with funds now expected to be disbursed in the period between 2022 and 2025.

Edelgeriyev said that the role of hydrocarbons in the energy transition remains a most contentious topic, with “very different opinions” preventing a consensus at COP26.