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Who will answer for the climate?

Climate change on Earth capable of leading to catastrophic consequences

Who will answer for the climate?

The joke attributed to Mark Twain that “everyone talks about the weather, but no one does anything for it,” has acquired a modern and not at all comic sound.

Many countries are showing less and less willingness to impose any international obligations to limit anthropogenic impact on nature and climate. The exodus from the Kyoto Protocol of a number of developed countries is a vivid example of this.

Global climate challenges

Extensive development of industry, leading to the so-called industrial revolution, formed an industrial society, a characteristic feature of which was the increased negative impact of human activity on the natural environment, directly or indirectly causing its change. At the same time, numerous local effects of anthropogenic factors became so widespread that they began to influence not only the climate of the region, but also the climate of the entire planet Earth. As a result, the task of limiting the destructive influence of a person on the climate that threatened the existence of humanity itself arose to its full height.

Among the most striking examples of the theoretical and practical global anthropogenic impact on the Earth's climate, we can indicate the following. First, the consequences of a nuclear war, which is still possible, even hypothetically, in view of the nuclear weapons accumulated by a number of countries. Scientists from the USSR and the US using computer simulations have shown the possibility of a "nuclear winter" in the case of large-scale exchanges of nuclear strikes. It is believed that as a result of the release of a large amount of smoke and soot into the stratosphere, the temperature on the planet will decrease, since the amount of reflected solar rays will increase substantially, and this can lead to a new glacial period on Earth.

Secondly, the destruction of the ozone layer of the Earth. In the middle of 1980's. The ozone layer began to be intensively depleted due to halogenated hydrocarbons entering the atmosphere, which are widely used in industry. As it is known, stratospheric ozone protects the Earth's surface from the passage of ultraviolet radiation from the sun, which is detrimental to all living organisms. To counter the destruction of the ozone layer, the Montreal Protocol was developed. A document listing the harmful substances entered into force on January 1 1989. It is believed that the implementation of the Montreal Protocol is quite successful.

Thirdly, global warming is the process of gradual increase in the average annual temperature of the atmosphere of the Earth and the World Ocean in the XX and XXI centuries. It is believed that one of the causes of warming is the greenhouse gases emitted into the atmosphere, including due to human industrial activities. To address this problem, in December 1997 the Kyoto Protocol was adopted, which obliges developed countries and countries with economies in transition to reduce or stabilize greenhouse gas emissions.

The examples cited combine not only their global character, but also approaches to monitoring and modeling the Earth’s climate. Previous studies of the effects of nuclear explosives made a huge contribution to the knowledge of how carbon dioxide (CO2) raises the temperature of the Earth, and aerosols lower it. Climate therapists found laboratories and technologies for tracking radioactivity and simulating nuclear explosions created during the Cold War. Thus, after the natural and technogenic accident at the Fukushima-1 NPP in March 2011, the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization tracked the radioactive plume of damaged reactors using a global network of monitoring stations for measuring radionuclides in the air. This network is a direct descendant of systems and computer models created to monitor the effects of weapon tests. Mathematical models rooted in nuclear science have found a place in the toolkit of environmentalists: powerful supercomputers and skills in managing large data sets are now being used to combat the threat of catastrophic climate change.

Another feature of these examples is that there have always been experts and their supporters who did not believe in either a “nuclear winter” or an anthropogenic impact that could significantly affect the Earth’s climate. Discussions on this topic not only continue in the scientific community, which is quite natural in the context of such a complex set of scientific and technical problems, but also spill out into the public sphere, are picked up by politicians, as a rule, already acting in their corporate interests, which ultimately distorts the idea of climate change itself and creates an unhealthy atmosphere around it.

The concentration of greenhouse gases is growing

According to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere in 2011 reached a new record high. From 1990 to 2011, radiation exposure (impact on climate warming) increased by 30% due to carbon dioxide and other long-lived gases that retain heat. Since the beginning of the industrial era - from the 1750 year - about 375 billion tons of carbon in the form of CO2 came into the atmosphere, mainly as a result of burning fossil fuels. About half of this amount of CO2 remains in the atmosphere, and the rest is absorbed by the oceans and the biosphere of the land. The ocean because of this is becoming more acidic, which negatively affects the underwater food chain and coral reefs.

Note that CO2 is the most important greenhouse gas emitted by human activities. The contribution of this gas to the increase in climate impact over the past 10 years is 85%. WMO reports that atmospheric CO2 reached 2011 parts per million CO390,9 equivalent in 2, or 140% of the pre-industrial level of 280. The pre-industrial level reflected the balance of CO2 fluxes between the atmosphere, oceans and biosphere. The amount of CO2 in the atmosphere has increased by an average of two parts per million per year over the past 10 years. At the same time, in 1990–2011, the temperature grew by an average of 0,16 ° C per decade.

According to the Renewable Energy Institute in Germany, in 2011, the level of greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere increased by 2,5% compared with the previous year and reached a record in the entire history of measurements, with more than a quarter of all emissions falling on China, than in the USA. Three countries that are among the top ten polluters of the environment - the United States, Russia and Germany - have noted a reduction in emissions. Global greenhouse gas emissions are now double the 1990 level of the year.

It is believed that an increase in average temperature relative to the pre-industrial level at 2 ° C is permissible. However, the World Bank warned that the world is on the path to warming on 4 ° C, and some scientists claim that on 6 ° C. According to the European Climate Change Impacts and Vulnerability 2012 report in the European Environment Agency, current actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions are not enough to limit the temperature increase on 2 ° C. And even if the temperature does not increase more than 2 ° C, warming will still have a significant impact on society, human health and ecosystems. Therefore, adaptation and mitigation measures are needed.

Note that the 16 of September of the 2012 of the year in the Arctic was the minimum annual sea-ice extent since the start of satellite observations, which amounted to 3,41 million square meters. km, which, for example, makes it possible for Russia and other subarctic countries to more actively use the Northern Sea Route. At the same time, the melting of permafrost can bring enormous problems to Russia.

Kyoto Protocol against global warming

The Kyoto Protocol was adopted by 159 states in Kyoto, Japan, in December 1997 in addition to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and entered into force 16 February 2005. This is an international document that obliges states that have ratified it, to reduce or stabilize greenhouse gas emissions in the atmosphere in comparison with the baseline. Often the base level is chosen 1990 year. The Kyoto Protocol was ratified by 192 countries around the world. The US has signed it, but has not ratified it; Do not participate in the Kyoto Protocol, the rapidly developing China and India.

The ratification of the Kyoto Protocol has led to the formation of a global carbon market, the operation of which boils down to the fact that the participating countries are allocated a certain allowable amount of greenhouse gas emissions (quotas). If the country does not fulfill its obligations under the protocol and exceeds the permissible amount of emissions, the country is obliged to purchase conventional units in the amount of the exceeded limit.

Three flexible market mechanisms were provided for the implementation of the Kyoto Protocol commitments: quota trading, clean development mechanism and joint implementation projects. As a result, the participating countries have the opportunity to buy quotas for greenhouse gas emissions, as well as implement joint projects aimed at reducing the level of emissions into the atmosphere. In addition, they were given the opportunity to implement environmental projects in developing countries, taking into account the carbon units generated from their effect.

The first (basic) period of implementation of the Kyoto Protocol began 1 January 2008 year and ended 31 December 2012 year. Further, as expected, a new agreement will be developed - "Kyoto-2" - for the next base period of 2013-2020. However, the situation in recent years began to develop in a destructive scenario: on the one hand, the emissions remain significant and their concentration in the atmosphere is high, and on the other hand, a number of countries began to withdraw from the treaty.

Canada - the first country that in December 2011 officially announced its withdrawal from the Kyoto Protocol. Canadian Environment Minister Peter Kent told reporters that the protocol does not cover the world's largest greenhouse gas emitters - the US and China, and therefore will not be effective. This statement followed an agreement reached in Durban at the 17-th United Nations Climate Change Conference (COR17). Canada was critical of the protocol, saying that it did not reflect the present situation. Russia, Japan and New Zealand announced the withdrawal from the Kyoto Protocol. By now, the European Union has remained the only major polluter that supports Kyoto-2. Note that in the European Union there is a law, which is criticized by several countries, obliging civil aircraft flying in its zone to pay for the emission of greenhouse gases.

26 November 2012 year in Qatar kicked off the 18 Conference of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COR18). The main issue was the extension of the Kyoto Protocol, as well as the creation of a new framework covering all major issuers, which will come into force in 2020. It is characteristic that at the opening of the COP18 five countries - the USA, Japan, Canada, Russia and New Zealand - received anti-Fossil of the Day. Every day during the conference, a group of representatives of the order of 700 non-governmental organizations from all over the world awards this antipremation to countries that demonstrate unwillingness to deal with problems related to climate change at the talks. But if the US did not join the Kyoto Protocol, then Russia and Japan were notable participants. What happened was that these countries decided to abandon the protocol? It turns out that the reasons that prompted Russia and Japan to abandon Kyoto-2 are largely different.

Japan faced insurmountable problems

It was Japan and the European Union that became the main organizers of the signing of the Kyoto Protocol. No wonder the protocol in 1997 was signed in the ancient capital of Japan - Kyoto. Japan itself unequivocally accepted the theory of global warming caused by anthropogenic factor, which, however, served as an excuse for criticizing it, including in Russia, where the Kyoto Protocol was considered not so much from an environmental position as through a prism of foreign policy interests.

Japan, being a recipient country, that is, a buyer of carbon credits, has successfully followed its obligations under the Kyoto Protocol right up to the global financial and economic crisis of 2008. But the main problems began later. After the 30 August 2009 arrived, the new leader and Prime Minister of Japan Yukio Hatoyama came forward with a new proposal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, which was called the "Hatoyama Initiative", to the power of the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ). In the pre-election promises, the DPJ was supposed to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases by 2020% by 25% compared to the indicator of 1990, but officially at the international level Hatoyama announced its initiative in December 2009 in Copenhagen at the 15-th United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP15). This goal is more ambitious than the declared by the government of the Liberal Democrats emission reduction by 8%. The initiative of Hatoyama was received very positively by the Japanese society, because the Japanese are very attentive to environmental problems, although it has caused discontent in the industrial circles of the country.

To implement the 25% emission reduction goal, in addition to traditional energy efficiency improvements and the introduction of green technologies in energy-intensive sectors of the economy, Japan, in particular, decided to focus on the development of nuclear energy and electromobile transport, which have zero greenhouse gas emissions. It was expected, for example, that the share of atomic energy in the energy balance of a country from 30%, which took place before 2011, would increase to 2050% and more by 60.

In June 2010, Hatoyama was replaced by Naoto Kan as the leader of the DPJ and the Japanese Prime Minister, but Japan continues to work to reduce emissions. So, in January 2011, on the eve of the Great Disaster in East Japan, the government announced the adoption of the energy efficiency standards for 2012 fiscal year for industrial engines installed in air conditioners, pumps and household appliances. These standards should help reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 5 million tons per year, or 0,4% of Japan's total emissions.

However, a devastating blow to Japan's efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions came from the Great Disaster in the east of the country, triggered by a powerful 11-magnitude earthquake on March 2011, 9, followed by a tsunami. A huge 14-meter wave disabled the cooling system of the reactors of the Fukushima-1 NPP, which led to radioactive contamination of the surrounding area. Problems at this nuclear power plant caused the shutdown of all reactors in Japan and the growth of anti-nuclear sentiment, which manifested itself in numerous rallies and statements by prominent figures in Japan against the "peaceful atom". The slogan "No Nukes", adopted by a number of newly formed parties, has become part of the anti-nuclear subculture and almost one of the most popular slogans in modern Japan. It is estimated that without nuclear power, Japan will have to make an additional 180-210 million tonnes of emissions in 2012, compared with the base year 1990, when emissions were 1261 million tonnes.

At the 18 Conference of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COR18) in November 2012, Japan declared the following position, agreed earlier at the meeting of Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda with the Minister of Environmental Protection and other cabinet members. On the one hand, Japan is not going to accede to the Kyoto Protocol in the event of its extension, since this document regulates only 26% of the total volume of emissions in the world. Japan is unlikely to achieve emission reductions of 25% to 2020, as promised, due to changes in energy policy as a result of the nuclear accident at the Fukushima-1 nuclear power plant in 2011, but will not abandon the stated reduction by 25%. On the other hand, Japan has tried to retain the role of a key player, as it assisted developing countries in the amount of $ 17,4 billion, which exceeds the $ 15 billion that it promised 3 years ago.

Russia shows inconsistency

Unlike Japan, which was forced to abandon Kyoto-2 due to its inability to fulfill its stated goals, Russia has for many years demonstrated inconsistency in its climate policy, bordering on incompetence.

The Kyoto Protocol was beneficial to Russia. The collapse of industrial production that followed the collapse of the USSR led to a sharp reduction in emissions: in 2000, they were 38% lower than in 1990. Then they began to grow slowly: according to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, in 2010 in our country this figure was 35% less than in 1990. Thus, Russia could become a donor country of quotas, make "money from the air" while modernizing its production.

Russia signed the Kyoto Protocol in March 1999, but only on November 5, 2004, President Vladimir Putin signed the law on ratification of the protocol, demonstrating Russia's goodwill to the global community to solve the problem of global warming. Due to the fact that Russia joined the protocol, the total quota of the participating countries on greenhouse gas emissions exceeded 55% (as of 1990 year), and the protocol entered into force on February 16 2005. Note that we already had the opposition, which asserted that the Kyoto Protocol posed a threat to the economic development of the country. These fears were in vain, but something else happened: the Kyoto Protocol was forgotten.

Only on the eve of the 15 International Conference on Climate Change (COP15) held in Copenhagen in December 2009, Russia was concerned about climate change: 27 November 2009, President DA Medvedev signed a decree appointing AI Bedritsky his advisor On issues of climate change, and 17 December 2009 year, its order approved the Climate Doctrine of the Russian Federation. Russian ecologists took these decisions with optimism, which turned out to be in vain. And the Copenhagen conference itself proved to be a failure.

Attempts to create in Russia an effective national mechanism for carbon credits led to some positive results only in the last two years. In 2009, Sberbank was instructed to select projects in the competition with a limit of 30 million tons. As a result, 108 applications for 311,6 million tons were approved, although almost 400 million tons were received. It is significant that President Dmitry A. Medvedev 27 of June 2011 of the year at a meeting of the Commission for the Modernization and Technological Development of the Russian Economy stated: "The Kyoto Protocol is actually ending, and we have not done anything useful for ourselves in this regard." In fact, the domestic bureaucracy failed this project.

In 2012, the Kyoto Protocol again became a topic of discussion, and supporters of Kyoto-2 were not only environmentalists, but also representatives of Russian business, although the price of carbon units fell from 10 euros in 2010 to less than 0,9 euros per 1 ton. It seems that decisive factors for the exit of our country from the second stage of the protocol were not issues of ecology, climate and even business, but something completely different. As a result, Russia suffered image losses, ceased to be a country that could declare itself as a state aware of the importance of the international framework for greenhouse gas emissions, and also lost the opportunity to use Kyoto quota sales mechanisms and invest the proceeds in renewal and clean technologies. Now Russia, freed from the “shackles” of international obligations, will proceed from its legislation, which is largely focused on the raw material model of the economy and often ignores the problems of environmental conservation.

* * *

Already outside the Kyoto Protocol, environmentally responsible countries such as Japan will continue to work to reduce anthropogenic emissions, based on national legislation aimed at improving environmental performance. However, there is no confidence in adherence to the ideas of global security associated with the environment and climate, many other countries, including Russia. Neither the Ecological Doctrine of the Russian Federation, adopted in the 2002 year, nor the Climate Doctrine of the Russian Federation, adopted in the 2009 year, did not become real instruments that were built into the overall system of making managerial decisions in the country. Is it any wonder that an adviser and special representative of the President on climate issues spoke against Kyoto-2, while domestic environmentalists constantly face politics and crime in their environmental activities?

The selfishness of those states that refuse to take on international obligations to limit greenhouse gas emissions is regrettable. Of course, there are still hopes that by 2020, a new framework will be defined for appropriate measures to address climate change. But if this does not happen, then the mistakes of current politicians will have to be paid to future generations.

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