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Security Council   /

Security Council meeting on preventing national security threats arising from global climate change

March 17, 2010, The Kremlin, Moscow

Dmitry Medvedev held a Security Council meeting on preventing national security threats arising from global climate change.

The President noted at the meeting that Russia remains committed to its chosen strategy of reducing hydrocarbon emissions into the atmosphere despite the unclear prospects for an international agreement on climate change.

Mr Medvedev stressed that although there is no common forecast and precise scenario for climate change, Russia needs to be ready for any development in events. The President noted the importance of establishing new financial and institutional mechanisms and incentives for companies to modernise their technology, and also singled out the need to pay attention to regions with severe climatic conditions, in particular the Arctic areas, which are absolutely crucial for studying the causes and consequences of climate change.

President Medvedev also said it is important to maintain involvement in the international negotiation process and help obtain the drafting of a global climate agreement that is in Russia’s sustainable development interests.

Mr Medvedev set the Government deadlines for submitting a package of measures to implement the Climate Doctrine approved at the end of 2009, proposing steps for the development of the Arktika multipurpose space system for climate change monitoring, drafting a single plan for scientific research in this area, and adopting a strategy in meteorology and related fields through to 2030.

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President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev: Colleagues,

The Security Council is meeting today to examine the whole range of issues related to the environmental, economic and social consequences of global climate change. Of course, timely evaluation and suitable responses need to be one of our national priorities. 

The global community has attempted on a number of occasions to tackle this problem over recent years, but without much visible impact so far. The Copenhagen Climate Change Conference failed to produce results. The prospects for an international agreement on climate change are still not clear, although everyone continues to work, of course. As a responsible country, we however remain committed to our chosen strategy, namely, developing an energy-efficient economy, modern ‘green’ technology, and a modern energy sector, thus reducing carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere. No matter how the situation develops it is in Russia’s environmental and economic interests to pursue this strategy. This is without question an issue concerning our national security, and this is why we are examining this matter here today.

Russia’s Climate Doctrine, which was approved at the end of last year, is based on this same strategy. Its implementation involves carrying out state programmes to reduce the human impact on the atmosphere and also adapt it to the changes taking place in the world, including in the Arctic and in our northern latitudes. 

In this context, I want the Government to approve a package of measures for implementing the [Climate] Doctrine by October 1, 2010. This includes drafting the necessary laws and regulations. I hereby issue this instruction to the Government.

We also need to establish new and effective financial and institutional mechanisms, and come up with incentives for companies to modernise their technology, a system of incentives for the companies that are modernising and achieving substantial results. Perhaps we also need to adjust building and technical regulations to take into account the current or forecast effects of climate change, though on this matter we need to proceed very carefully, because not all forecasts turn out to be correct, frankly speaking, and so we need to follow developments very closely. Whatever the case, we will need to make thorough checks of civil and military infrastructure located in regions with the most complicated climatic conditions, and if necessary, take measures to make them more reliable in the context of climate change. In any circumstances, according to the evaluations already made, deterioration of the permafrost in the north of Western Siberia and also in the northeast of European Russia could cause potential damage to buildings and infrastructure. We need to keep this in mind even though we have just gone through a winter seldom seen over these last years, but typical of the climate traditional for our part of the world.

It is extremely important for us to build up modern scientific research and forecasting capability. We are still quite a long way behind most developed countries in monitoring and forecasting climate change. I especially want to bring to your attention that we are still unable to carry out ongoing meteorological study of the Arctic region, which is absolutely crucial for understanding the causes and consequences of climate change. The Government has a deadline of June 1, 2010 for proposing steps for the development of the Arktika multipurpose space system and establishing meteorological and climate monitoring subsystems. 

We still lack a clear organisational system for managing climate research, both fundamental and applied. We need a single centre and single research plan that includes forecasting national security threats and offering effective recommendations for adapting to climate change at the national level and at the level of specific regions and industries.

This plan must be drawn up by September 1, 2010, and by July 1 this year we need to approve the strategy in meteorology and related fields through to 2030, and finalise this strategy’s implementation stages.

Colleagues, in order to take part in the international negotiating process it is imperative that we work in coordinated fashion and that all of our agencies cooperate with each other. Their common task is to help to obtain the drafting of a global climate agreement that will be in Russia’s sustainable development interests, and that takes into account our current possibilities and our country’s specific competitive advantages.

We need to reach a rapid decision on a mechanism for coordinating the different agencies’ efforts, and this should cover not just monitoring and research work, but also the diplomatic and information side of things.

We must not forget either that climate change can give rise not only to physical change, change in the nature around us, but can also see the emergence of disputes between countries over energy exploration and extraction, the use of marine transport routes, bioresources, and shortages of water and food resources. The countries bordering the Arctic region are already actively engaged in expanding their research, economic and even military presence in the Arctic. Unfortunately, in this situation we are seeing attempts to limit Russia’s access to exploring and developing Arctic energy deposits, which is inadmissible from a legal point of view and unfair in terms of our country’s geographical location and very history. 

I want to bring one other issue to your attention. This is something that has been much discussed. I have spoken about it too with my colleagues at the G20 and G8 summits. There is the idea of ‘preventive measures’ taken by developed countries as a sort of carbon protectionism. These kinds of decisions, especially unilateral decisions aimed at specific countries or groups of countries, could limit export opportunities for some of Russia’s commodities on international markets and serve as a pretext for increasing unfair competition against Russia. We therefore need to weigh this situation up, discuss it, and propose a scheme that would enable us to contribute to preventing climate change while at the same time maintaining our economy’s competitiveness in our main export sectors. You all understand what I am talking about.

In conclusion, I want to stress one point. Scientists – also represented here today – continue to debate over the consequences of global climate change. The situation is not at all always as clear as the environmentalists and people following these developments closely sometimes think. No matter what anyone says, there is no common forecast and no precise scenario for how things will develop. But we need to be prepared for any development of events, and we must be able to make use of these developments in such a way as to benefit our economy, strengthen our country, and protect our people from the negative impact of climate change on their lives. That is today’s agenda.

March 17, 2010, The Kremlin, Moscow