Irkutsk
Ulan-Ude

Blagoveshchensk
Chita
Yakutsk

Birobidzhan
Vladivostok
Khabarovsk

Magadan
Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk

Anadyr
Petropavlovsk-
Kamchatsky
Moscow

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Ecological price of development

Prospects for "green" growth in the East of Russia and the New Silk Road

Since 1970, the Institute of Economics and Industrial Engineering of the Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences has been publishing the journal ECO, a well-known and recognized publication in the scientific world. Several issues of this journal in recent years have been entirely devoted to the development of the Far East. On the eve of the Eastern Economic Forum, IEIOPP SB RAS decided to collect the best publications on these topics in the book. Readers of the Eastrussia news agency have a unique opportunity to familiarize themselves with some of the texts of the publication in the framework of the joint project "ECO - Far East". The authors of the material - Irina Glazyrina, Doctor of Economics, Professor, Head. Laboratory of the Institute of Natural Resources, Ecology and Cryology of the Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences (Chita); Irina Zabelina, Ph.D., Department of Applied Informatics and Mathematics, Transbaikal State University (Chita)

Ecological price of development
Photo: shutterstock
With each new production there is an additional anthropogenic impact on the natural environment. For additional incomes and growth of well-being it will be necessary to pay a certain "ecological price". Will not it be too high for Siberia and the Far East?


THE ECONOMIC BELT OF THE SILK ROAD AND THE GREEN ECONOMY
The Silk Road Economic Belt Strategy (SREB) was presented by President Xi Jinping of China in 2013. The goal of this new direction of China’s strategic efforts was to “promote cooperation, development and prosperity in the countries of Asia, Europe and Africa”. China's new global initiative has attracted unprecedented attention from politicians, business, academia, the media, and the public. In the east of Russia, this idea caused both increased expectations of new development drivers and fears. Years of experience in cross-border cooperation suggests that problems come along with the prospects. Including - environmental, as the economy of the regions of Siberia and the Far East has a sustainable raw material specialization.

In the sectors related to the use of natural resources, we often observe manifestations of an ecologically unequal exchange, when benefits come to one of the subjects of nature management, and the consequences of the negative impact on natural systems - to others. Disparate acts in various forms: between companies and the local population, between different territories (for example, in cases of pollution of water bodies), between constituent entities of the Russian Federation (replenishment of budgets from the use of natural resources often occurs not where it is mined but where the company is registered) , between countries (in the case of commodity orientation of exports), etc.

With the beginning of economic growth in Russia in regions rich in natural resources, there have been tendencies of an ecologically unequal exchange, which by now remain poorly understood, especially in Eastern Siberia and the Far East. Here, trans-border relations with the rapidly growing economy of the PRC also play a specific role. A preliminary analysis of work in this area suggests that these conditions need to set the task of improving and developing specific institutions aimed at realizing the ecological purpose of natural resource rent.

The situation of environmentally unequal exchange in Russia usually arises from the contradictions of the interests of resource companies and the local population. Often they are aggravated also by the fact that the growing incomes of extractive companies are not accompanied by an adequate increase in the well-being of the population of natural resources. Sometimes contradictions are manifested in the form of obvious environmental conflicts, sometimes these conflicts are not reflected in actions and protests, but after a long latent phase they find their way out in the outflow of the population to more prosperous places. Especially in the east of the country, where the population is wary of China's participation in the Russian economic life, and the question of what awaits us in the event of the celebration of the idea of ​​EPS, stands up in the most natural way.

The greatest concern is the environmental impact of Russian-Chinese cooperation due to the negative reputation of Chinese investment initiatives that have developed in recent years in many developing countries. After all, there are a lot of examples when society pays for immediate benefits the irreversible changes in ecosystems and even ecological catastrophe. At the same time, the main economic beneficiaries (in particular, investors) often do not affect these consequences - all environmental costs go to the population of natural resource regions. It is obvious that with each new production there will be an additional anthropogenic impact on the natural environment. For additional incomes and growth of well-being it will be necessary to pay a certain "ecological price". Will not it be too high? How to determine if this price is reasonable and acceptable in the long term?


COLOR OF ECONOMIC GROWTH
(...) The "green" economy, as defined by UNEP, is "an economic system that leads to improved human well-being and social justice, with a significant reduction in environmental risks and depletion of natural resources, as well as in improving the quality of the natural environment. UNEP emphasizes that in the green economy, "the growth in incomes and employment resulting from public and private investment is accompanied by a reduction in emissions and discharges of pollutants, increased energy and resource efficiency, and prevention of loss of biodiversity and ecosystem services." An important task is the effective use of natural capital. One of the key objectives of the green economy is poverty eradication: the UNEP report argues that the transition to a green economy can help to reduce it.

The term “green growth” in most works refers to the path of development leading to the achievement of the goals of a green economy and implying an increase in gross domestic product. However, this definition undoubtedly requires quantitative “diagnostic” tools, the use of which could answer the question: is the observed growth really “green?”. (...) One of the well-known indicators of eco-intensity: carbon emissions per unit of gross domestic product (GDP) (...) For the period from 1971 to 2010, economic growth in China was “black” or “brown”. Certain improvements have been observed since 2005.

But the goals of the green economy are much broader than reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Quantitative indicators of "green" growth are necessary to monitor the situation with respect to emissions of pollutants into the atmosphere, discharges of untreated sewage, destruction of ecosystems. (...)

Most of the regions in question do not experience water shortages, many water bodies with high water quality and almost intact ecosystems have been preserved on the vast territory of this part of Russia. However, in many localities, and not only in large settlements, the problem of water pollution is already very acute. In the east of Russia there are several large rivers, the basins of which are divided by the state borders between Russia, China and Mongolia - Selenga, Amur, Argun, etc. Degradation of aquatic ecosystems in some cases is associated with transboundary impacts (the Argun, Sungari, Onon, Selenga, Amur rivers) . Significant negative changes in ichthyofauna in the Upper Amur basin were noted. Therefore, the most important indicator is the eco-intensity with respect to discharges of untreated wastewater.

The system of payments for the negative impact on the environment, which was legislatively introduced in Russia since 1992, had a certain positive effect and led to a specific reduction of pollution in a number of indicators, that is, it contributed to improving the quality of economic growth. In relation to discharges of untreated sewage, Russia and most of the eastern border regions after 2000 were stably in the zone of "green" growth (although here it is necessary to point out the imperfection of production control, as a result of which the real indicators may be worse than nominal). However, the graphs for the Amur Region and the Trans-Baikal Territory also contain points of “brown” growth, while for the Jewish Autonomous Region almost the entire growth trajectory is in the “brown” zone.

Emissions to the atmosphere of the main pollutants were also considered: SO2, I have notx, solid particles, hydrocarbonates, carbon monoxide; they are denoted as ESO2, AndNOx, Andss, AndHC, AndWITH respectively. The symbol Etotal the total pollution is indicated. The results of calculations are presented in the table. They show a high differentiation of regions in these indicators. The most favorable situation is in the Khabarovsk and Primorye Territories. The least - in the Amur and Jewish regions, where we see a significant number of points of "black" growth. In general, in Russia, the point of "black" growth (relative to atmospheric emissions) is fixed only once - in 2004 for carbon emissions.

“Color” of economic growth in Russia in 2000-2013: eco-intensity of untreated sewage discharge, м3 / thousand rub.






Ecological and economic zones for the eastern regions of Russia

Green growth Brown growth "Black" growth
Russian Federation
Etotal + (2013) + (2001-2012)
ESO2 +

ENOx + (2004-2005) + (2006-2013)
EWITH
+ (2005-2013) + (2004)
Ess +

EHC

+
Trans-Baikal Territory
Etotal
+

ESO2


+

ENOx
+ (2012) + (2004-2011, 2013)
EWITH
+ (2004, 2009, 2011-2013) + (2005-2008, 2010)
Ess +

EHC


+
Amur Region
Etotal
+ (2001-2003) + (2004-2013)
ESO2
+ (2004-2006, 2008-2001, 2013) + (2007, 2012)
ENOx

+ (2004-2008) + (2009-2013)
EWITH


+
Ess + (2005-2010) + (2004,2011-2013)
EHC

+ (2005) + (2004, 2006-2013)
Irkutsk Region
Etotal
+ (2001-2006) + (2007-2013)
ESO2

+ (2004-2011, 2013) + (2012)
ENOx
+ (2005-2006) + (2004, 2007-2011, 2013) + (2012)
EWITH
+ (2004-2007, 2009-2010) + (2008, 2011-2013)
Ess +

EHC
+ (2004,2008-2011) + (2005-2007, 2012-2013)
The Republic of Buryatia
Etotal
+ (2003-2007, 2009-2011) + (2001-2002, 2008, 2012-2013)
ESO2
+ (2004-2008, 2010-2011) + (2009, 2012-2013)
ENOx
+ (2004-2007) + (2008-2013)
EWITH
+ (2009) + (2004-2008, 2010-2013)
Ess + (2004-2007, 2009-2013) + (2008)
EHC

+ (2005-2009) + (2004, 2010-2013)
Primorsky Krai
Etotal
+ (2004-2013)
+ (2001-2003)
ESO2
+ (2004, 2006-2013) + (2005)
ENOx

+
EWITH
+ (2006-2013) + (2004-2005)
Ess +

EHC


+
Khabarovsk Krai
Etotal
+ (2001-2002, 2005-2013) + (2003-2004)
ESO2
+

ENOx
+ (2005-2013) + (2004)
EWITH
+

Ess + (2006-2013) + (2004-2005)
EHC


+
Jewish Autonomous Region
Etotal

+ (2005-2013) + (2001-2005)
ESO2
+ (2006-2013) + (2004-2005)
ENOx

+ (2004, 2008-2013) + (2005-2007)
EWITH


+
Ess
+ (2006-2013) + (2004-2005)
EHC
+ (2008-2009) + (2004-2007, 2010-2012)

The analysis of the texts of the RF program documents on the development of the east of the country shows that the declared goals fully comply with the main provisions of the green economy concept. However, this applies mainly to the "text part" of programs, and, as a rule, does not find reflection in applications containing lists of projects. Nevertheless, they clearly expressed the public request for the ecologization of socio-economic relations. Therefore, the principle position of Russia in the formation of projects and programs of the Economic belt of the Silk Road should be to prevent the change of the existing environmental and economic dynamics for the worse.

At present, the reputation of joint Russian-Chinese initiatives (both ecologically and socially and economically) in almost all sectors - in subsoil use, in agriculture, in forest management - leaves much to be desired. Only if the emerging distrust is overcome, and the expansion of cooperation will bring real positive results, it will be possible to say that the prospects that have opened up within the framework of this project will be realized.

If the eco-intensity indicators of new projects are lower than those existing in the region, their implementation will lead to a decrease in the overall eco-intensity and, at least, will not cause the development trajectory to shift to the “black” growth zone. But, as can be seen from our model, this does not guarantee getting into the zone of “green” growth: with a decrease in the specific negative impact, the total load on the environment may increase, that is, the growth will be “brown”. A decrease in eco-intensity is a necessary, but not sufficient condition for green growth. While maintaining the previous levels of pollution with each new project, even with a relatively “gentle” anthropogenic impact, the region will be doomed to “brown” growth. For the transition to a “green” growth (or the preservation of a “green” development trend), parallel ecological modernization of existing productions is needed, which allows reducing the overall impact through the use of new technologies, increasing energy efficiency, etc. If we set the goal for the New Silk Road to become a road to “Green” economy, this should be a fundamental principle in the development of models of cooperation.

In the context of this work, it is important that the main documents of the PRC leadership of recent years, including those devoted to the Silk Road Economic Belt, clearly formulated environmental objectives: “the key ideology is to respect nature, follow nature, protect nature, and strive for sustainable development.” At the same time, the construction of “Ecological civilization” is being carried out, which was officially announced in the document of the Communist Party of China “Position on accelerating the progress in building Ecological civilization” In the same direction, there is a systematic development of procedures for ensuring the environmental responsibility of financial institutions for the projects for which they provide loans. This gives hope for an understanding of the Chinese side in matters of greening the regional economy.

... Technological cooperation can give positive results in terms of ecological modernization of the regional economy. However, this requires a purposeful stimulation of these processes. If modern environmentally sound technologies do not receive comparative advantages or state support for implementation in Russia, then there is a great danger that instead of them, new equipment will come to Russia on the New Silk Road from factories that are currently being actively closed to the PRC because of the high and unacceptable from the point of view of the objectives of the Ecological civilization, negative impact on the environment.




("ECO" magazine, №7 for 2016 year, abbreviated version)


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