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Putin’s Smoke And Mirrors

April 2, 2015
tags: ,

By Paul Homewood




It looks like they are queuing up to make an idiot of Obama.

Hot on the heels of his meaningless “climate agreement” with China, and being made a fool of by India, it is now the turn of Putin to wrap Obama around his little finger.



According to the India Times, Putin has suggested he might find a way to cut emissions by 30% from 1990 levels (although on his own terms):


PARIS: Russia, moving ahead of a deadline for submitting pledges to tackle climate change, said Tuesday it could cut its greenhouse-gas emissions by up to 30 % compared to 1990 levels, subject to conditions.
In a roster of commitments on the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) website, Russia announced that "limiting anthropogenic [man-made] greenhouse gases in Russia to 70-75% of 1990 levels by the year 2030 might be a long-term indicator."

But, it said, this was "subject to the maximum possible account" of including forests — deemed absorbers of carbon gases — in the reduction.
And, it cautioned, Russia’s "final decision" on the commitment will depend on the outcome of the negotiating process and on the commitments by "major emitters" of greenhouse gases.
March 31 was a rough deadline for the 195 countries in the UNFCCC process to submit so-called "intended nationally determined contributions" (INDCs). 
These are the heart of an intended pact to tackle greenhouse gases that would be sealed in Paris in December and take effect from 2020.
Russia is the fifth biggest emitter of greenhouse gases in the world, after China, the United States, the European Union (EU) and India, according to the US thinktank the World Resources Institute (WRI).
The reference to forests is a highly contentious part of the climate negotiation process. Trees are so-called "carbon sinks," meaning that they absorb carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere under the natural process of photosynthesis.
As a result, the argument is that forests should be taken into account, and set against national commitments to reduce carbon emissions.
The issue was a toxic one when it came to putting together the rulebook of the UNFCCC’s Kyoto Protocol in 2001, with Russia taking a prominent role in demanding concessions. Green groups argue that forests are a false way to meet an emissions target, and that "sinks" are usually invoked to avoid the cost of switching to cleaner energy resources or reducing real carbon pollution.


You probably won’t be too surprised to learn that this deal is not quite as good as it appears! Following the collapse of communism in 1990, a lot of old and inefficient heavy industry shut down in Russia and the rest of the communist bloc, with the result that emissions of CO2 fell sharply in the years after.

According to the official CDIAC data, Russian emissions fell from 643MtC in 1990 to 495MtC in 2013. In other words, Russian emissions are currently already down to 77% of 1990 levels. Therefore, under Putin’s proposal, the best he is offering is to reduce by a further 2% to 7% of 1990 emissions. When the forest fudge factor is accounted for, it is quite likely that Russian emissions won’t fall at all.


The chart below shows how sharply CO2 emissions fell after 1990 in Russia, and how they have gradually been increasing since 1998. This is in stark contrast to falling emissions in the US and Europe during recent years.




In reality, Putin’s offer is not a deal at all, just smoke and mirrors. Will Obama, not to mention EU leaders, accept it? I don’t know, but he is so desperate to get his climate change treaty signed before he leaves office that I would not be in the least bit surprised.

  1. Joe Public permalink
    April 2, 2015 9:43 am

    Rule #1 of Negotiation: “Offer something which seems valuable, but costs you little”.

    • diogenese2 permalink
      April 2, 2015 7:41 pm

      Rule #2 is start with an outrageous demand which you can trade off to appear conciliatory , e.g. $100b p.a. in Danegeld or perhaps a 9ft high statue of Obama with his dick hanging out.
      H/T “The Life of Brian”

  2. Bloke down the pub permalink
    April 2, 2015 10:24 am

    Restrictions on trade with the west over Putin’s escapade in Ukraine will probably have sufficient impact on their own to bring emissions in under target.

  3. dennisambler permalink
    April 2, 2015 10:29 am

    In 1997, the Kyoto Protocol committed developed countries to reduce CO2 emissions by an average of 5% compared to those in 1990. The Kyoto deal was not ratified until 2005, after Russia was bribed to sign up by giving them World Trade Organisation concessions.

    Kyoto needed the support of countries responsible for 55% of global emissions for it to come into force. Without the US, Russia was the only country large enough to push the totals over the threshold. With naked self-interest rather than any environmental belief, Putin “persuaded” the legislature to ratify Kyoto in November 2004.

    As Paul says, the rest of the Eastern Bloc, as well as Russia, was in severe economic down-turn and have also beaten their Kyoto commitments as a result. Putin negotiated a deal which took into account Russia’s major decline in emissions from the 1990 baseline.

    When the Russian economy started to recover, it had a large deposit of emission credits in the bank, which it could sell to make windfall profits. It was generally estimated that these emission credits would be worth as much as $10 billion over the following 10 years. In effect, therefore, the industrialised nations paid Russia to join the Kyoto club.

    The base line of 1990 allowed signatories to claim for reductions in CO2 output unconnected to any treaty. Post re-unification, the new Germany closed down a lot of heavily polluting East German industry. In England, the government decimated the coal industry in a rush for gas and in France and Japan, 1990 saw the start of slow economic growth.

    In February 2005, the Kyoto Protocol came into force and in that same year, the European Commission created its own trading mechanism for emissions allowances, known as the Emissions Trading Scheme, (ETS).

    In 2010, the UK Climate Audit Committee said:

    “The Government’s official emissions figures for 2005–2007, which incorporate the net purchase of EU ETS credits, are…somewhat misleading in suggesting that UK emissions were reduced. Simply making a purchase of EU ETS credits does not necessarily mean that the UK is funding real and equivalent emissions reductions elsewhere.”

    According to the Committee’s report, the UK purchased 31.4 million carbon credits through the (ETS) in 2006 and 25.7 million in 2007. Maybe some of them were from Russia.

    There is a massive push for Son of Kyoto in Paris and the goal is still a global “carbon” price via the UN. Hopefully India and China will not become more BRICS in the wall.

    • Brian H permalink
      April 3, 2015 4:18 am

      All that maneuvering and posturing — to avoid something harmless, even beneficial. The bind moggles.

      • qwaezee permalink
        April 3, 2015 8:52 am

        I agree. Putin very likely does too, given his very small pledge relative to Russian emissions today. Also, his pledge is conditioned on other nations acting to his satisfaction. That won’t happen. He is obviously just playing along. Whatever else one may think of him, he plays the game very well.

      • qwaezee permalink
        April 3, 2015 9:11 am

        Oops. Should be “Putin very likely does too, given his small pledge relatve to Russian 1990 emissions.”

  4. johnmarshall permalink
    April 2, 2015 10:31 am

    Russian climate scientists predict that we have just entered the next (19th) little ice age. Has Putin seen this research?

    • qwaezee permalink
      April 2, 2015 11:56 am

      I’m sure he has, and we will probably know by 2020, not unlikely earlier, to what extent this and other similar studies show that we are headed in that direction.

  5. April 2, 2015 10:44 am

    Paul beware a trick of News media engineering the news. I think I see a similar trick today about Australia “set to sign Paris agreement”.
    – What an unscrupulous journo can do is writing a headline as if it were fact in an attempt to put pressure on, using it as a base for ramping up a snowball of pressure for the headline to actually become true. They tried this trick earlier writing headlines like “Pressure mounts on Abbot to hold leadership election”, when the actual main pressure was actually wishful thinking journalists writing headlines.

  6. April 2, 2015 11:07 am

    Trick Obama? The trick will be Putin avoiding getting run over by the Obama-Kerry stampede to sign the deal. Hopefully, the Senate has the guts to not ratify the treaty.

    Obama’s 28% cut pledge is all stuff already in place or on the regulatory agenda.

  7. A C Osborn permalink
    April 2, 2015 11:15 am

    Germany used exactly the same technique with the closure of the east german Industry after the unification.

  8. diogenese2 permalink
    April 2, 2015 7:48 pm

    Forgive a little density here but how can Biomass be both a renewable energy source and a CO2 sink at the same time?

  9. Mike Williams permalink
    April 2, 2015 10:36 pm

    Canada would be very happy to see our share of the Boreal forest be “subject to the maximum possible account”. Given our small population, I think we would be in line for carbon credits.

  10. April 3, 2015 1:29 am

    Anyway, who died and went to heaven and put Barry in charge of treating with China on behalf of the rest of the world?

  11. April 3, 2015 2:00 pm

    Reblogged this on Globalcooler's Weblog.

  12. April 3, 2015 9:46 pm

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