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The Kyoto Protocol has taken its first practical steps in Russia's energy sector
The Kyoto Protocol has taken its first practical steps in Russia's energy sector, which accounts for about one-third of the country's carbon dioxide emissions and 3% of the world total. However, the sector is 80% obsolescent, making the recent agreement signed between national electricity monopoly RAO UES and the Danish Environmental Protection Agency (DEPA) timely. It is connected with the introduction of new technologies in Russia's eastern regions. Under the deal, DEPA will invest _20.071 million in modernizing the Amur thermal power station (TETs-1) in the Far East - run by UES subsidiary Khabarovskenergo - and the Mednogorsk thermal power plant in the Urals, run by another subsidiary, Orenburgenergo. Re-equipment will reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 1.8 million tons. The Amur plant will also switch from coal to gas, while the boiler-house at the Mednogorsk plant will be modernized. All of the work will use Russian technologies. The DEPA, which invested in the project, will get the expected 1.8 million tons to be received during its implementation. But how worthwhile is Russia's first Kyoto deal? "The main thing at present is not money but the fact that a pilot project has been launched and things are on the move, said Yuri Fyodorov, general director of the National Organization of Support for Carbon Absorption. "It is important to make a clear distinction between two different prices. ... The price of a real commodity is one thing, but today we in fact sell 'promises,' and less money is paid for them. For the time being trade appears virtual - when the project is carried out, it will generate reduced discharges, which is exactly what will be sold." If the first projects make a good start and everyone sees that it is possible to work with Russia, the price of Russian projects will rise. The National Organization of Support for Carbon Absorption took part in drawing up the first projects, dealing with all the problems involved in making them a reality. "Perhaps the two signed contracts will urge the government to speed up formulating the procedures to register joint projects and also draw up a law associated with the Kyoto Protocol," Fyodorov said hopefully. According to Fyodorov, before signing the first projects, lawyers took a long time to decide whether the government's powers would be enough to start implementing the Kyoto Protocol. After long debate, a clear opinion has been formulated that a law is actually necessary to give the government special powers to carry out the Kyoto Protocol. The law is currently being drawn up by the Economic Development Ministry. "Our company is preparing new projects, also for Danish tender," Fyodorov said. "One of them is for the Irkutsk Region in Siberia, envisaging switching of boiler houses from coal to biological fuel, to pressed wood waste. A similar project for the Omsk Region is in the company's portfolio." "For Russia 'joint existence projects' are the best way of implementing the Kyoto Protocol," said economist Viktor Danilov-Danilyan, an associate member of the Russian Academy of Sciences and director of the Institute of Water Problems. "They bring investments to the country, which, apart from saving on emissions, produce a considerable indirect effect as regards the quality of output, resource usage, requirements for labor, and so on." According to Danilov-Danilyan, it is not surprising that Russia signed the first "carbon projects" with Denmark. "[Denmark] is the first country in the world in terms of ecological consciousness, and in this sense it is one of the best partners for Russia," the scientist said. The field of activities for new carbon projects is vast. Oleg Pluzhnikov, head of a department at the Economic Development Ministry, said Russia was looking at signing Kyoto agreements with six countries - Denmark, France, Germany, Austria, Canada and Sweden
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