Russia remains critical of the net zero goals of many countries as it considers them to be based on hopes, rather than existing technology solutions.

However, it expects to see acknowledgement of forestation as a means to reduce greenhouse emissions and more near-term clarity in carbon dioxide offset and trading mechanisms.

Speaking to Russian state news agency Tass, Russian presidential envoy on climate issues Ruslan Edelgeriyev described ongoing talks between countries at the UN Climate Change Summit COP26 in Glasgow as a “race of ambitions”.

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The ambitious goals of some countries are “not underpinned by [clear] roadmaps and scientific data” and are based “on unjustified hopes for the emergence of new technologies”, Edelgeriyev on the sidelines of COP26.

With Russia recently assuming 2060 as its net zero target, the government has based its decision on “scientific evidence and calculations”, he said.

Favourable environment

Reaching the target before 2060 is possible, he added, however, it will depend on the creation of a “favourable domestic and international environment” for Russia and removal of existing sanctions against the country and its state-controlled corporations.

With “current elements of deterrence and discrimination” against the country on the international arena, reaching the net zero target for Russia before the announced deadline is “impossible”, Edelgeriyev said.

He pointed out such obstacles as the opposition to declare nuclear power as a low carbon source of energy, and carbon border adjustment mechanisms that are proposed in Europe to be levied on imports of energy resources, steel, fertilisers and other carbon intensive products.

Russia will need other countries to agree upon joint international carbon markets and pricing and remove restrictions on various methods of producing renewable energy and carbonless fuels to move faster along the net zero route, Edelgeriyev told the news agency Tass.

Forest issues

Additionally, other countries should agree to consider forestation as valid “green projects” to offset CO2 emissions.

Russia has repeatedly argued that the CO2 absorption ability of its forests and swamps should be recognised and certified internationally, with President Vladimir Putin emphasising the issue in his address to COP26 participants.

According to Putin, the role of forests in reducing carbon emissions is critical to the country as it hosts about 20% of the total area of global forests, and thus it fully supports the COP26 leaders’ declaration on forests and land use.

Besides the forest issue, Russian authorities also expect world leaders to achieve progress in agreeing on international CO2 offset and trading mechanisms as envisaged by Article 6 of the Paris climate agreement, according to Edelgeriyev.

Methane leaks

However, Russian representatives have provided no comment on what the country will do about reducing methane gas emissions, an issue that has received renewed attention following a major gas leak that occurred last month during a pipeline accident in the Nizhegorod region.

The leak that was discovered by French satellite monitoring firm Kayrros, has reportedly become the fifth major accident of such kind at the country’s gas trunk pipeline network operated by state-controlled monopoly Gazprom.

According to independent estimates, Russian remains a top methane polluter in the world because it operates almost 180,000 kilometres of large diameter trunklines in the country, with Gazprom considering building new long-export routes to China from West Siberia.