In the midst of such a celebration of this fossil fuel, one would imagine that the realities of climate change and Russian oil filtered through the heart.
But over in recent years this has started to change. This year, one of the city 's main oil forums, "Oil Capital ", which took place in March, grantedspecial attention to the climate, with panels and discussions devoted to decarbonisation. Local officials, businesses and scientists have tried to figure out what the future of Khanty-Mansiysk and Russia might be in a new low-carbon world.
Russia has joined many countries around the world in setting a target date to achieve net zero emissions (Credit: Pomona Pictures / Hfrance.fr)
"The climate agenda has been a topic here for some years now, since Climate Doctrine was adopted in 2009, "says Irina Akhmedova, associate professor at the Oil and Gas Institute at Yugra State University. Climate Doctine was Russia's first policy document. to define a basis for climate regulation. "However, this is not an easy subject, especially since we are such a mono-specialized region.
Oil andgas accounts for 80% of the economy of Khanty-Mansiysk . Globally in Russia, oil and gas provided 39% of federal budget revenue and made up 60% of Russian exports in 2019. The share of all fossil fuel rents (the price of fossil fuels minus the cost of their production) amounted to 14%. of GDP that year, according to a forthcoming article by Igor Makarov , researcher at the Moscow Graduate School of Economics.
Despite the deep rootedness of oil and gas in its economy, Russia is very aware of the climate crisis and has taken steps to mainstream it into current and future policies. At the end of September, the government created several special inter-ministerial working groups to prepare the economy for the global energy transition. These groups will anticipate the risks and opportunities for theRussia, and their findings will feed into an action plan to be created by the end of 2021.
"The global economy is focused on a gradual transition to low-carbon energy, Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mushustin said , at a meeting with ministers at the end of September. "This is already a new reality. We must prepare for a gradual reduction in the use of traditional fuels - oil, gas, coal. "
Shortly before world leaders meet for the recent United Nations talks on the climate in Glasgow (COP26), the government has adopted a long-term low carbon development strategy which foresees that the country achieve carbon neutrality by 2060 or before. The mandatory carbon report for large emitting companies was introduced earlier in 2021 . Companies in Russia can also adopt voluntary emission reduction projects and trade their emissions. (The only exception so far is the Sakhalin region in the Far East of Russia, where a more legally binding emissions trading system is being developed.)
At the same time, a lot climate experts warn qRussia's emission reduction target for 2030 remains very low. This target projects a 25-30% "reduction " in emissions by 2030 from 1990 levels, but Russia 's current emission levels are already around 30% below 1990 levels if forest sinks are not included, and around 50% whether forests are included . This means that in reality Russia The low carbon development strategy foresees an increase of at least 0.6% in emissions from current levels by 2030. The international research group Climate Action Tracker indicates that Russia's policies and actions are " grossly insufficient for a 1.5C trajectory, and closer with a 4C world.
Government and business have an optimistic view of the outlook for the oil and gas sector in the near term. "Over the next 20 to 30 years, the oil and gas related industries will remain one of the pillars of the Russian economy " said Alexey Miroshnichenko, senior vice president of the development bank Russian State, VEB. "Even in the long term, renewable and conventional energy sources will coexist.
Nonetheless, traditional industries will need to undergo "profound transformation " in order to achieve the goals of the 'Paris Agreement, adds Miroshnichenko. In collaboration with the Ministry of Economic Development, the VEB has created Russia lhe first green finance scheme in September, which aims to help financiers decide which projects are sustainable.
It 's no surprise that the oil and gas industry is reluctant to quickly eliminate fuels. Speaker during an event parallel to COP26 Sergey Vakulenko, a representative of one of Russia 's largest oil companies, Gazprom Neft, argued that oil and gas would still be needed even in the new low carbon economy . Renewable energy could be enough to cover the majority of demand, he said, but traditional fuels would still be used as a reserve.
Some experts wonder how long the Russian fossil fuel industry will remain a viable prospect. "The gas, on which bMany are hopeful as a transitional fuel, will last 10 to 15 years [as an economically viable fuel] "said Evgeny Kuznetsov, a Russian venture capitalist and managing director of Orbita Capital Partners. " This This period may not be long enough to monetize investments in new large-scale gas projects. "
But others say the industry shouldn't be slowing down anytime soon. Thane Gustafson, professor of political science at Georgetown University in the United States and author of the book Klimat: Russia in the Age of Climate Change , expects global demand for fossil fuels to continue to grow until 2030. In at the same time, supply constraints resulting from lower investment in fossil fuels will continue high energy pricess, punctuated with periodic price peaks, as we see today .
But in the early 2030s, the picture will start to change, he says, with the influence of climate technological change and clean energy transition are becoming dominant. He expects global demand for oil to peak and start declining around this time due to the spread of electric vehicles and political limits on petrochemicals. Renewable energy will increasingly replace coal, he says, while demand for gas will remain high but stop growing.
"The impact of climate change [action] on Russia over the next 30 years is going to be very largely external, "says Gustafson. "It will increase due to the trends and forces exerted outside of Russia andt over which Russia actually has very little influence. "
Changes inside Russia, such as the rising cost of extracting oil like oil fields exhausting, will have a certain impact, he adds. But the growth of electric vehicles, the continued diffusion of renewable energies and the progress of green legislation especially in Europe, as the European Green Deal , will all exercise a external pressure on Russia, he says.
"Russia has very little control over this, " says Gustafson. "Russia will be a 'taker ' of global trends, rather than a 'manufacturer '. And that must be, of course, a difficult achievement. "
This puts Russia in a vulnerable position, according to Kuznetsov. He believes that after the current energy crisis, a drop in demand will accelerate. the planned reduction in consumptionfossil fuel consumption in Europe. The result could be that a large number of competitors compete for a shrinking market, leading to lower prices.
Vladimir Chuprov, project manager at Greenpeace in Russia, agrees that if others countries follow through on real action on their Paris Agreement promises, Russia will experience a drop in demand for coal and oil before 2030. However, in 2050, the Russian economy is still expected to rely on au minus a portion of the revenue from natural gas exports, he said. In Russia's domestic supply, he sees gas, along with nuclear, playing a leading role.
But by 2050, the Russian economy will no longer be able to rely on oil and gas exports and will need to find new sources of income, adds Chuprov. “It would be particularly difficult for regional economies,” he said. "People will start to migrate to the iinterior of Russia. "
Energy after oil
The question is, what could be the basis of the new post- l 'fossil fuel economy in Russia?
"That ' s certainly the billion dollar question - and up - " says Anna Korppoo, research professor at the Fridtjof Nansen Institute in Norway Korppoo has been studying Russian climate policy for over 10 years and recently co-authored a report on a just transition from coal in Russia .
There are several candidates who could replace fossil fuels in a Russian clean economy One option would be new sources of energy for export such as renewables, hydrogen or nuclear and potentially even carbon-free fossil energy with carbon capture and storage.
Expressed infrom Russia's side event at COP26, Russian Energy Ministry representative Pavel Sorokin presented increasing forest sinks and carbon capture and storage as priorities for Russian fossil fuel companies, followed by a further reduction in emissions.
Sorokin also stressed the importance of producing green hydrogen (hydrogen made cleanly by scientists have doubts about the sustainability of blue hydrogen , warning that greenhouse gas emissions from blue hydrogen may be high, especially due to the release of fugitive methane. ( Learn more about sustainable hydrogen growth .)
Russia is an important oil and gas producer (Source: BP Stat Critical Review of Global Energy 2021, Credit: Pomona Pictures / Hfrance.fr)
As the world's largest producer of nuclear power plants , with plans to develop new nuclear technologies for export, Gustafson is optimistic about the prospects for the Russian nuclear industry. "It has been quite a story - the creation and re-launch of [state-owned company] Rosatom has led to a huge increase in construction and sales [of nuclear technologies] outside of Russia," he says. . "Russia currently has strong advantageses in civilian nuclear technology compared to the US, France or UK. "
Environmental activists in Russia, however, are more skeptical of plans to further develop nuclear power as a climate solution , stressing that nuclear power is expensive, and that spent nuclear fuel and waste are currently stored and no longer processed. The Russian Social Ecological Union also said that Rosatom and the Russian authorities put pressure on environmental activists , who have been indicted and persecuted for anti-nuclear campaigns.
In response to these claims, a spokesperson for Rosatom said that "Rosatom is open to dialogue and cooperation with different organizations around ", and that representatives of the largest Russian environmental organizations participate in the Rosatom Public Council.
" Nuclear energy is essential to achieve carbon neutrality goals, "Rosatom said the spokesperson for, adding that the technological solutions for treating spent nuclear fuel and transforming it into new fuel for nuclear power plants are " at an advanced stage " in Russia. They give the example of Rosatom Proryv project , a nuclear neutron reactor plants and a spent fuel treatment plant will be built on the same site.external energy rts.
Resources of nature
There are many options other than nuclear to decarbonize the Russian economy. Kuznetsov said Russia could become competitive in producing other low-carbon technologies, such as equipment for smart energy grids and new heating systems. Agriculture is another way.
"It is truly a remarkable story for anyone who remembers the state of agriculture in Soviet times ", says Gustafson. "At the moment, Russia is again the world 's largest exporter of wheat . " Total revenues were around $ 25 billion (£ 19 billion) in 2019 , he addsl, and Russia aims to increase this to $ 45 billion (£ 34 billion) by 2024 through agricultural reforms. "It seems quite realistic, or at least plausible, " says Gustafson.
Another option might be to expand into sustainable forestry and wood-based products, account given its vast forest resources. Russia is home to more than a fifth a fifth world 's (approximately 7.6 million km² / 2.9 million square miles) and the country's boreal forests, known throughout Rusia as the taiga, represent the largest forested region Earth, with approximately 12 million km² (4.5 million square miles), greater than the Amazonia .
Russia is already an exporter of timber and timber products such as sawn timber and veneer sheets, although there has been criticism that these products are not sustainably sourced . But sustainable wood-based packaging materials and textiles could become an important new sector for the Russian economy, said Paola Deda, director of forestry, land and housing at the united nations economic commission. for europe, at a cop26 forestry themed event.
Chuprov from Greenpeace Russia also sees the potential of sustainable forestry, including the use of trees that have grown on abandoned farmland in recent decades after the demise of the Soviet Union. According to the Greenpeace estimates , since 1985 approximately 760,000 km² (290,000 miles² - an area larger than France) of former agricultural land suitable for growing forests have been abandoned in Russia for economic reasons.
Much of this abandoned farmland (approximately 500,000 km² / 190,000 square miles) could be used for , according to Greenpeace. About 60% of these lands are already covered with forests, but Greenpeace says the rest could be used to grow more trees .
The forests that grow on old farmland are one of the most valuable resources. important for the potential development of rural areas, through job creation andsustainable production of wood with economic value, according to a recent study published by a Parisian think tank Climate Chance , of which this journalist is also the author. They can also offer environmental benefits, such as increasing local resilience against natural disasters. Using planted forests for economic purposes could also help preserve intact primary (old-growth) forests from deforestation and unsustainable logging.
With the world facing shortages growing worlds of freshwater, forests, fish and arable land Russia Forests could provide a whole range of important ecosystem services , says Makarov, biotechnology and fish farming durable to responsible tourism through regenerative agriculture. Harnessing the minerals needed for renewable energy development could also become a new source of wealth for Russia, he adds.
To make all of this possible, however, more changes are needed , says Nelya Rakhimova, coordinator of the Coalition. for the sustainable development of Russia which led a civil society review on the implementation of the UN 's sustainable development goals in Russia in 2020 . "If Russia decides to follow the clean energy and economic transition, this will not be possible without the implementation of all aspects of sustainable development - economic, environmental and social. " To make the most of the natural resources of Russia, not only, drank For its people, "we haves need for fundamental freedoms, a rule of law and open courts, ”says Rakhimova.
Rakhimova considers this to be a "main obstacle " to the development of Russia. "If we had an open dialogue with the state, if the ground rules for the adoption of laws and their implementation were in place, then the energy transition process itself and the formation of the future Russia would be at a completely different stage, "she said.
If one thing is certain, it is that if Russia is to adapt to global clean energy trends, new industries are going to have to take center stage in its economy. With their experience of economic transformation based on natural resources, Russia's oil regions may soon find themselves with another role to play.
"Here in Khanty-Mansiysk, we must develop a new economy , based on knowledge and science, "says Tatiana Minayeva, researcher at the Center for Conservation and Restoration of Wetlands, Institute of Forestry Sciences of the Russian Academy of Sciences. " We already have a foundation for this, laid during the era of the oil boom. "
Data search and visualization by Kajsa Rosenblad
Animation by Pomona Pictures
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