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Russians remain wary of green finance despite policy shift

Policymakers in Moscow are finally promising to tackle climate change. Will the Russian private sector follow suit?

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Have Russian policymakers finally accepted the necessity of tackling climate change? That is the question being asked in global environmental circles following the Kremlin’s surprise unveiling in mid October of plans to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2060.

The announcement was broadly welcomed by advocates for climate action, who had begun to despair of seeing any serious action on greenhouse gas emissions from one of the world’s biggest commodity producers and carbon polluters.

Traditionally, Russia has been a laggard on climate. President Vladimir Putin was publicly sceptical of climate change until very recently and his government only ratified the Paris Agreement in 2019, and then with very unambitious targets for carbon reduction.

Over the last year, however, there have been increasing signs of a policy shift. Several months of climate-friendly rhetoric from the Kremlin was franked in July by a flurry of initiatives, including a requirement for larger polluters to disclose greenhouse gas emissions from next year and a recommendation from the central bank for companies to introduce non-financial reporting.

These were followed in September by the announcement that the government had started negotiations with businesses on the launch of a carbon taxation system in Russia.

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