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5 years of idleness. What have post-Soviet countries accomplished in 5 years after signing the Paris Climate Agreement?

On December 12, 2015, a historic climate agreement was signed in Paris, uniting all countries of the world in the desire to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, switch to clean energy sources and adapt to the effects of climate change. How did these 5 years go for the post-Soviet countries? “The approved commitments and plans of no country in the EECCA region are considering reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 2030,” says the new CAN EECCA report “Climate Policy Analysis of Eastern Europe, Caucasus and Central Asia”. The report includes data for Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kyrgyzstan, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Moldova, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Russia and Ukraine.

While more than 65 countries and 200 corporations in the world have already announced the transition to 100% clean energy, and 127 countries including China, South Korea, Japan and the European Union are considering or have already declared climate neutrality by 2050-2060, the countries of the post-Soviet space plan to ramp up greenhouse gas emissions in their climate commitments.

At the same time, the EECCA region is highly affected by climate change, and countries are already suffering economic losses in various sectors. This direction of development will exacerbate the climate crisis and create risks for agriculture and the provision of drinking water to the population. The decrease in water availability will affect hydropower, which is an important part of the energy balance of Georgia, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.

As in the rest of the world, burning fossil fuels accounts for a significant share of total greenhouse gas emissions in Russia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Moldova and Uzbekistan. However, no country has long-term plans or fixed dates to phase out fossil fuels. Renewable energy, excluding large hydroelectric power plants, is no more than 4-5% in the energy balance of EECCA countries. At the same time, the official plans to increase the capacity of renewable energy sources on average are 5-8% in the total energy balance until 2030, which is critically insufficient.

In the countries of Central Asia, when planning climate policy, considerable attention is paid to climate change adaptation. Problems begin at the implementation level, because in general adaptation projects are either not linked by one systematic approach, or are very vague, without an action plan.

This year Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan have officially announced the revision of their contributions to the Paris Agreement. Moldova made its second contribution to the UNFCCC in March, and Ukraine and Georgia will soon approve the updated NDCs. So far, these contributions either do not imply a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, or provide a very small percentage of reduction, which does not contribute to the implementation of the Paris Agreement goals.

In November, Russia submitted its first contribution, which implies an increase in emissions by 2030. Also today, Russia has received a “special mention” during the anti-award “Fossil of the Year” for backbreaking work in the destruction of civil society. The Russian authorities have already done serious damage to civil society by enacting a foreign agent law that has blocked access to funding and forced dozens of organizations to close. But now they are planning to introduce foreign agent status for individuals on a selective basis, which will target individual activists.

“Contrary to logic and common sense, after signing the Paris Agreement, Russia continues to support the fossil fuel industry. For example, coal production could grow by 50% over the next 10 years. Those who use their voices to stop this, are under increasing pressure – criticism of the authorities in Russia becomes illegal. This is extremely bad news for the climate,” says Vladimir Slivyak, co-chairman of the Russian environmental group Ecodefense.

Olga Boiko, CAN EECCA Climate Network Coordinator:

“The climate crisis is changing our world very quickly. Countries periodically take on commitments that can remain on paper for years and “warm the soul” in the expectation that nothing really needs to be changed. This hope is false. It is enough to look at the tendencies of increasing natural disasters and temperature records over the past 30 years. In our countries, the risk of not being able to adapt and getting irreparable damage to the economy is growing every year. Over the next few years, the countries of Eastern Europe, Caucasus and Central Asia have a choice – to remain on the periphery of climate policy, or to make truly progressive decisions on renewable energy development, energy efficiency, preservation of ecosystems and adaptation to climate change.”

Svetlana Romanko, Managing Director of 350.org in the EECCA region:

“2020 is expected to be recognized as the hottest year in the history of the planet, corporations in the world and in the EECCA region continue to plan increased production of coal, oil and gas and lobby for government assistance during the crisis. Governments, already not active in climate policy, have donned the protective armor of crisis and cost savings. But we, the climate movement, still want only one and a half degrees, not two or three, and albeit a little, but we will win this battle. This is especially difficult in our region, but not impossible.”

Nugzar Kokhreidze, Scientific and Intellectual Club “Dialogue to Generation” RICDOG (Georgia):

“This is an important date. Georgia has done a lot in recent years, and in a series of these measures, the aspiration of the city of Kutaisi to switch to 100% renewable energy sources by 2050 should be indicated, but this is a small part of what the country as a whole can do. The adoption of NDCs with a more ambitious plan should be accelerated, and legislation should be improved to involve citizens in decision-making on important energy and other major infrastructure projects. The Ministry of Environment Protection and Natural Resources should be re-established separately, since after the merge with the Ministry of Agriculture, many issues have occured.”

Amalia Hambardzumyan, “Khazer” Environmental-Cultural NGO (Armenia):

“Armenia in its contribution presented at COP21 in Paris, announced its clear quantitative (numerical) commitments to limit greenhouse gas emissions for the entire period from 2015 to 2050 and achieve a neutral level in 2050. However, at the stage of implementation of the declared commitments, there are no signs of achieving these goals. Moreover, the government’s announced commitment to create an internal financial mechanism to implement climate change adaptation and mitigation measures in 2018 has failed. The afforestation plans announced in the NDC are also not being implemented, according to which the forest cover of the Republic of Armenia, which is currently about 11%, should be achieved by 2050 to 20.1% of the territory of the Republic.”

Timur Idrisov, Senior Adviser, “Little Earth” Environmental Organization (Tajikistan):

“Tajikistan is one of the most vulnerable countries in the region to the effects of climate change. It is in the interests of Tajikistan not only to insist on tougher goals for reducing global greenhouse gas emissions, but also to do everything possible to combat climate change at the national level. We call on the government of the republic to make more ambitious commitments and make all necessary efforts to achieve more substantial and concrete results in reducing emissions and adapting to climate change.”

 

Contacts: Shauro Tatiana, CAN EECCA communication manager

tatianashauro@gmail.com, WhatsApp: +79296458435

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