Russia to spend $300 Billion on Energy Efficiency

THE Russian government has approved a $300 billion energy-efficiency program aimed at trimming the fat from old Soviet-era factories and buildings.

This action signals a new effort to make the country more environmentally friendly, particularly needed when has been revealed that Russia wastes enough energy to power the French economy.

Kevin James of London-based investment adviser Climate Change Capital stated about the Russian move:

“The political winds have changed at the top, and there is a growing consensus that climate change is happening and a will to change and build a more efficient economy.”

Prime Minister Vladmir Putin once famously quipped that global warming meant Russians would need to spend less on fur coats, but James added that the forest fires of the summer led to a realisation that climate change may not be entirely positive for Russia.

President Dmitry Medvedev, however, has taken a much tougher line on the environment, supported by a report from the World Bank, which said that improving energy efficiency will improve the country’s productivity and competitiveness.

Russia is the world’s biggest oil and gas producer, and cheap government-capped domestic energy prices have deterred energy saving. Medvedev now aims to make the country’s economy 40 percent more energy efficient by 2020.

However, NGOs say that these latest moves mark a shift in the right direction, but it would not be the first time the Russian government has drafted laudable plans but failed to act on them.

Vladimir Chouprov of Greenpeace said there was “a big line of industrial companies wanting to modernize their operations and raise efficiency,” but that many at the top, including Vladimir Putin, remain skeptical of climate change.

“The government is not green, and many policies are anti-environmental,” he concluded.

Monday 22nd November 2010

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