“It is important to remember the absorption capacity of forests. Without them, global carbon neutrality cannot be achieved,” Minister Maksim Reshetnikov told a G20 meeting of climate and energy ministers in Naples.
The European Union’s Executive Commission announced for the first time in recent weeks details of its carbon border tax, which will affect Russian companies supplying goods to Europe. The EU plans to reduce emissions by 55% by 2030.
According to calculations by Russia’s Ministry of Economic Development, the tax will extend to $7.6 billion worth of metals, fertiliser, electricity and cement. The tax takes effect in 2026, but from 2023, importers will be required to account for emissions in production.
Russia has consistently spoken of the need to take account of not only emissions but also the carbon absorption capacity of forests when calculating the carbon footprint.
Reshetnikov described this link as being far from obvious in fighting climate change and said it could hurt Russian and EU trade.
Russia had also done more than other countries in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, halving them over 30 years to 1.6 billion tonnes of CO2 equivalent.
“A strange situation has emerged here. Russia has 20 % of the world’s forests and they occupy a vast area – 815 million hectares. But according to the absorption method now approved by the international community, Russia is far from occupying first place,” Ilya Тorosov, Deputy Minister of Economic Development said in an article published in the daily Vedomosti.
“By way of example, consider the discrepancy in absorption capacity of the forest on the border between Pskov region and Estonia. There is nearly a two to one difference – yet it is one and the the same forest.”
Torisov also said the European methodology did not include reserved, or protected, forests – which account for 25 % of Russia’s total – or forests on farmland.
“If all this is calculated objectively, we have the potential to increase our absorption capacity by 50 to 100 %. As a result, there is a completely different national balance between emissions and absorption of greenhouse gases.”