If we take a leap of faith and believe the weather forecasters, by New Year's Day we will once again emerge from freezing weather to above-zero temperatures and slush. On the other hand, Europe, which will soon be celebrating Christmas, will be inundated by snow and cold. Or maybe the other way around. This may be connected with man-made global warming and climate change, and it may not - belief in this phenomenon, or disbelief fuelled by the energetic efforts of opponents of the theory, has almost turned into a matter of taste.
This includes bad and even politically harmful taste, which we are able to observe in Russia's example.
In the process of preparing for Copenhagen and making sense of what happened there (and what happened is on the whole a dead end disguised as an almost completely non-binding Climate Accord), Russia obviously and noticeably is experiencing the emergence of its habitually special "climatic phenomenon" - the climatic phenomenon of the enemy.
With all due respect to our estimable academics, it is strange to hear their assertions that in fighting climate change, there is a sense of "picking on countries rich in oil and gas." Well, first of all, all things being equal, what countries can be "picked on" other than those that bring the largest volumes of hydrocarbons to the market, hydrocarbons which produce the largest volumes of greenhouse gases when burned? And secondly, why not "pick on" them? Maybe this will somehow accelerate the process of weaning Russia off the hydrocarbon superpower exceptionalism.
Who besides environmentalists and our competitors in the oil and gas markets will pick on us is not exactly clear - the former pick on everybody and the latter, at the very least, do not need global warming to pick on us.
Although after Russia assumed the obligations it did at Copenhagen, it, as it happens, should be thanked. This is not my personal opinion, but that of several Russian experts, some of whom participated in preparing UN documents on climate and expert evaluations for the international group headed up by former U.S. Vice President Albert Gore. For his work on protecting the climate based on such evaluations, Gore won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007. The devaluation of the prize, of course, reached its nadir by giving it to Obama, but still.
At the Copenhagen summit, Russia pledged to cut its CO2 emissions by 20%-25% by the year 2020 as compared with 1990 levels. It is hard to say how much CO2 Russia is currently emitting. There are general and average figures from the UN and other international organizations.
So according to these averages, with our approximate 11% of global emissions, we are in third place - after China (19%) and the U.S. (18.4%). In the grand scheme of things, the entire EU could have been ranked third if its countries did not insist on "individual" and not "group classification." India is now in fourth place.
Our "carbon obligations" look impressive even against the background of the EU, which is ready to cut its "harmful pollution" only by 20% by 2020 and subsequently by 30% if other violators adopt a "matching plan." Since such a plan is not part of the Copenhagen "final product," it is not even worth mentioning.
But as is often the case with Russia, many of our obligations are so illusory as to have little to do with reality. According to data from Russian experts, from 2000 to 2007, Russia did indeed experience an economic recovery and CO2 emissions grew by approximately 0.6%-1% per year. In 2000, they were 60% of the volume of CO2 emitted by the USSR, and by 2007 they were already at 65% of this figure. The 2008 crisis naturally drastically cut the level of industrial activity. By 2009, we were "spewing" 35% less industrial pollution than in 1990. It is not very difficult to calculate that if current energy consumption and energy-saving rates continue, we will naturally cut emissions by 25% without any difficulty.
It would be very good if in addition to our utterly painless measures for "saving" the planet's respiratory system, we would make parallel progress in an area in which Russia has been backwards for a long time - energy saving and energy consumption.
We are behind the U.S., Japan and the leading European countries in energy production technologies - almost two-thirds of all energy in Russia is produced at cogeneration plants. We are even further behind in energy consumption technologies, so much so that we lose 45% of the energy we generate. If we could learn to use it efficiently and not waste this 45%, Russia could save 450 million metric tons of conventional fuel per year and cut the equivalent amount of CO2 emissions.
And a final remark. The notion that Russia could theoretically benefit from global warming and enormous expanses of Siberia would turn into something akin to the U.S.'s Great Plains, with colossal bread baskets, forges and resorts, is a dreadful delusion. Sixty percent of our territory, right behind the Urals, is permafrost. Even if it were to warm up, it would not be suited to agriculture - nothing could grow their in commercially viable quantities. And the populations of the northernmost districts would have to leave - their way of life would be flooded. And the Russian south and the Caucasus would be lost in debilitating droughts.
The opinions expressed in this article are the author's and do not necessarily represent those of RIA Novosti.
MOSCOW. (RIA Novosti political commentator Andrei Fedyashin)