"Toxic" contradictions of Euro-American politicians
The "green transition" can be hindered not only by the confrontation between the United States and the European Union with Russia, but also by the climatic haste of Western politicians. In the care of personal well-being, Western politicians have forgotten about the environment.
According to the correspondent of The Moscow Post, in the Scottish city of Glasgow, under the auspices of the UN, the COP26 climate summit began to work. This two-week event, postponed for a year in a pandemic, sums up the implementation of the 2015 Paris climate agreement. There are few reasons for optimism. The meeting is taking place in the face of an outbreak of energy shortages, a sharp increase in energy prices, and the return of a number of countries to coal generation.
Moreover, the global political atmosphere is poisoned by trade contradictions, conflicts and problems that are more toxic and dangerous than greenhouse gas emissions. Some of the conflicts are internal in their roots. So, for example, US President Joe Biden canceled Donald Trump's decision to withdraw the country from the Paris Agreement. If the summit had not been postponed for a year, it could well have taken place without the participation of one of the world's largest air pollutants.
The Paris Agreement is the main regulatory instrument adopted by 175 countries. COP26 is the "Conference of Parties," the annual summit. Leaders are discussing climate change and measures to reduce emissions. The goal is to bring greenhouse gas emissions, including SO2, to zero. Russia and China plan to do this by 2060, the European Union - by 2050, the United States - the year is not important. The main thing is that Washington is back in the agreement, thank Biden!
"Fishing for fleas" on Paris commitments
Some fast-paced international consultants have estimated that private investment in green technologies should increase eightfold to $470 billion a year by 2030 in order to achieve zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. In fact, the "question price" can not only be significantly higher in terms of dollars, but can also affect politicians, governments, and the reputation of the Paris Agreement itself. As in the case of the "green transition" in Europe, everything is done quickly, in the rhythm of election cycles that do not affect nature. And rush as you know is needed only when "catching fleas."
However, all participants in the G-20 meeting recognized the current approach to the goals of the Paris Agreement, reaffirmed the need to contain "global warming" at an optimistic level of 1.5 ° C compared to the pre-industrial century. In order to keep warming within these limits, it is necessary to reduce emissions by 2030 by 45% of the 2010 level. Today there is an increase in emissions by 16% of the 2019 level. In particular, according to the results of 2021, emissions will increase by 4.8%.
When "hysteria" in Europe will not help
COP26 should sum up every five years. Vladimir Putin announced the situation of Russia regarding climate tasks, speaking at the G20 summit in Rome. He noted that Russia is among the leaders in the decarbonization process, for two consecutive decades it reduces its carbon intensity by an average of 2.7% per year. This figure is higher than in the seven countries, "said the Russian president. And he added that the share of "clean" sources (nuclear power plants, hydroelectric power plants, wind farms, solar power plants) in the energy balance exceeds 40%. By this indicator, Russia is ahead of many countries. Taking into account natural gas, the share of "clean sources" reaches 86%.
All agree on the objectives of hydrocarbon neutrality. However, the path to achieving them overlaps not only the financing of the green transition, but also the contradictions in relations between States. It is enough to recall the claims against Russia about the "short supply" of natural gas, the "high prices" for this type of fuel, provoked by the actions of the European Union itself. It is known that Gazprom, after filling the main reservoirs in the Russian Federation, should accelerate the injection of natural gas into the PGA of Austria and Germany. This affected gas prices in Europe, they briefly decreased.
In general, the Russian side was preparing for the climate summit in Glasgow in conditions of "European hysteria." In addition to the thesis about dependence on Gazprom, political Europe clearly does not want to compete with Russia in the field of nuclear energy, is not in a hurry to certify the Nord Stream -1 project, ignoring its most, which is no "green" qualities. In general, Brussels's energy plans and behavior raise doubts about its readiness to cooperate with Russia on issues on the climate agenda.
Our carbon "neutrality"
The Russian president pointed to some of these problems, citing data that "the carbon footprint of solar energy, according to scientific data, is four times higher than atomic." According to him, the "green transition" should be built "on the principles of technological neutrality," take into account the carbon footprint of various types of generation. Brussels has not yet agreed with this, in fact belittling the role of nuclear power plants in controlling emissions, ignoring Russia's technological achievements in this area.
An even more difficult task is to convince partners that Russia is not only the emitter of greenhouse gases, but also absorbs SO2 emissions from forests, tundra, agricultural land, seas, and swamps. The Government is addressing the challenges of improving forest management. Reforestation areas are increasing, the territory of untouched nature is expanding, new agricultural technologies are being introduced.
Vladimir Putin said in this regard that Russia does not just intend to "achieve carbon neutrality, but to make sure that in the next three decades the accumulated volume of net greenhouse gas emissions in Russia is less than, for example, even our neighbors and colleagues in the European Union." It sounds like a challenge to the leaders of the "green transition," contains an element in assessing the climate policy of the European Union. Russia's relations with the EU repeat the trajectory of relations with NATO's Brussels headquarters. The gap has not yet reached, but the practical significance of the dialogue has decreased.
Vladimir Putin's speech in Rome during the second meeting of the G20 showed that Moscow intends to rely not so much on the politicized approach of its Euro-neighbors as on an expanded group of G20 leaders in the implementation of climate and environmental initiatives. In order to be a leader in the formation of unified, fair and transparent "rules of climate regulation," Vladimir Putin added, "the rules should be based on mutually recognized models of accounting and monitoring of greenhouse gas emissions and absorption."
Is there enough hive for winter?
France is Europe's largest consumer of electricity, relies on nuclear power plants, and even exports electricity to Britain. Plans to combat climate change should be more ambitious, "said President Macron. "Speed up, shorten, call, force," are verbs that he does not hesitate to use. At the same time, Brussels has not yet recognized nuclear energy as low-carbon. Before the summit in Glasgow, ten EU countries, including France, the Czech Republic, Finland and Poland, appealed to the European Commission with a request to include nuclear energy in the "green" register of this department.
In the meantime, in the context of the energy supply crisis, the world is seeing an increase in coal generation. Macron spoke emotionally about this, answering questions from the Financial Times. He suggested that the G20 countries themselves abandon coal generation, not finance this industry at all. The leaders of the G20, as it were, have agreed to stop subsidizing the construction of dirty coal generating facilities outside their countries since 2022.
But you can't rewrite the story. In 2001, the US and the EU consumed more than a third of the world's coal production, about the same as China and India combined. Now the share of China and India is close to 70%, while the United States and the EU together consume about 10% of the coal produced. In the United States, the maximum installed capacity of coal power (318 GW) was reached in 2011. Since then, it has decreased to 229 GW.
In Germany, even after 2030, about 15 coal-fired power plants with a total capacity of about 20 GW will operate. Today, coal provides about 27% of generation. In Poland, the share of coal in the fuel balance exceeds 56%, the country intends to maintain the coal industry, despite the requirements of Brussels. Other EU countries also generate electricity from coal-fired power plants, for a total of how much Poland.
China remains the main consumer of coal. In 2020, three of the four coal-fired power plants built in the world were commissioned in China. In 2019, the PRC introduced two of the three coal-fired CHPs built in the world. To support the profitability of coal-fired CHPs, the PRC government recently allowed to increase the price of "coal" electricity by 20%, plans to depreserve 153 mines, increase production volumes, and sign additional coal import contracts. All this in order to reduce coal prices, which have tripled since the beginning of the year. For example, coal prices, which Asian countries import from Australia, rose to $270 per ton.
Vietnam plans to double coal generation capacity by 2030 and bring them to 41 GW. The share of coal in total generation volumes will reach 30%. In some Southeast Asian countries, the share of coal generation in generation reaches 40%. Coal generation in Asia (non-OECD), including Indonesia, Vietnam and Thailand, is projected to account for more than 75% of global coal generation growth in 2030-50. In India, 135 coal-fired power plants provide about 70% of energy consumption.
Finally, South Korea's coal-fired power plants produced nearly a quarter of SO2 emissions in 2020. Many Japanese banks continue to provide corporate financing to companies involved in coal mining or coal generation projects. Among them are large trading companies that the government and banks consider important for the Japanese economy. At the moment, many dozens of new coal-fired power plants with a total capacity of 480 GW are planned to be built around the world.
And expert assessments
Anna Romanovskaya, Director of the Institute of Global Climate and Ecology named after Academician Yu. A. Israel and participant in climate negotiations as part of the Russian delegation to the UNFCCC (UN Framework Convention on Climate Change) warned that before the Glasgow summit, "there was pressure on different governments" to increase their national obligations and convince them to follow the toughest "scenario" of warming of 1.5 ° C compared to the pre-industrial period.
The latest IPCC assessment report (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) "indicates that 1.5 ° C warming will be achieved in all available scenarios until 2030 and exceeded by 2100." According to scientists, "Romanovskaya points out," all opportunities to limit growth to 1.5 ° C will require extraordinary efforts by all countries, including developing countries, and they will not "pull it" in financial and technological relations. The 1.5 ° C scenario will require decisive action by all economies, should include large-scale measures of technical removal of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, and other efforts.
It is almost impossible to reduce SO2 emissions by 45% of the 2010 level by 2030 in the face of the expected continuation of greenhouse gas emissions, the scientist says. In her opinion, the task for SOR26 would be to pass the peak of world greenhouse gas emissions until 2030. Further, she called the goals for achieving "carbon neutrality" set by governments (2050, 2060) politically motivated. These tasks will be unrealistically difficult to accomplish.
But the main thing is not this. US President Joe Biden apologized to the international community for the decision of his predecessor, Republican Donald Trump, to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement. He made this statement at an event at the Glasgow COP26.
Indeed, abrupt movements in international affairs are also contraindicated, as are political illusions in climate affairs. But Swedish eco-activist Greta Thunberg, who came to Glasgow, said that world leaders only pretend to be serious about climate change.