(1) International Environment Cooperation and External Policy Following the legal practice to adopt strategic documents, and in conformity with the Federal Act of 2014 on Strategic Planning in the Russian Federation (Collected Legislation of the Russian Federation  no. 26 (part 1), art. 3378), dated 30 November, the president adopted the Decree on Approving the Concept of External Policy of the Russian Federation (Collected Legislation of the Russian Federation  no. 49, art. 6886) (Decree on the Concept). While outlining basic principles, priorities, tasks, and objectives of the external policy, the decree simultaneously replaced the Concept of Foreign Policy of the Russian Federation that was in force since 12 February 2013. Climate change and threats to environmental security are named in the Decree on the Concept among the global challenges faced by the Russian Federation. It is stated that these global environmental challenges, in addition to political and economic ones, require cooperative and consolidated efforts from the international community and should be resolved by observing public rights, ensuring general security, and developing sustainable development. A separate chapter in the Decree on the Concept deals specifically with promoting international cooperation in Russia in areas of environmental protection. Cooperation on environmental protection in the Russian Federation is seen in connection with the consideration of economic growth in the country. In fact, this approach recognizes the officially recognized policy of ecological development in the country, which aims at reaching socio-economic goals that would foster ecologically oriented economic growth, ensuring favourable environmental conditions, and conserving biodiversity and national resources for the needs of the present and future generations of people (Fundamentals of the State Policy in the Area of Ecological Development, 2012). In regard to climate change, the Decree on the Concept specifically points to such priority measures as the protection of forests as natural sinks for greenhouse gases and the involvement of energy and resource-efficient technologies in the interests of the whole global community. As stated, the Paris Agreement, under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), shall be a reliable basis for the international regulation of long-term climate change policy. (2) Technological Innovation of the Economy in Meeting the International Environment Objectives Technological innovation of the economy has been viewed in recent years as a critical means for not only improving the implementation status of the national environment protection legislation and legislation aimed at socio-economic development of the country but also for attaining the goals of international environmental agreements and strengthening the position of the Russian Federation in international economic relations. On 3 July, the Federal Act on Strategic Planning in the Russian Federation was amended with a new Article 18.1 that specifically regulates the enactment of necessary planning documents relating to scientific and technological development by vesting the power to approve them on the president (Federal Act no. 277-FZ on Amending the Federal Acts on Protection of the Rights of Private Businessmen and Juridical Persons and on Strategic Planning in the Russian Federation). In conformity with the above act, on 1 December, the president signed Decree no. 642 that on the Strategy of Scientific and Technological Development of the Russian Federation (Collected Legislation of the Russian Federation  no. 49, art. 6887). While pointing to the principle challenge in this area—the insufficiency of the practical application of technological achievements in economic activities and environmental protection—the strategy singles out two priority environment-related issues: the energy and agricultural sectors. It is prescribed that technological innovation should concentrate on creating environmentally clean and resource-saving energy production, raising efficiency, and encouraging the deep treatment of hydrocarbons and the involvement of new energy sources. The creation of environmentally clean agriculture has been signalled as a key route for the agricultural sector. (3) Climate Change and Ozone Layer Protection In April, Russia signed the Paris Agreement, but it has not yet been ratified. According to the statement of the minister of ecology and natural resources, the Russian Federation shall be ready to do so after adopting internal documents providing for the transition to energy-saving technologies. (Paris Agreement on Climate Has Entered into Force, Doc. RG.RU, 4 November 2001). The Governmental Order on Approving Implementation Plan on Public Regulation of Greenhouse Emissions and Preparation to Ratification of the Paris Agreement (3 November 2016) has set a timetable for implementation measures. In particular, by early 2019, the government is prescribed to submit to the president of the Russian Federation a report explaining whether it shall be reasonable and feasible to ratify the agreement. Later the same year, it is intended to develop a draft federal act on state regulation of greenhouse gases emissions. By mid-2018, there should be prepared a plan of action for adaptation to climate change. Russia is a party to the Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer. In implementing its international commitments, on 15 December, the government adopted an order limiting production and consumption of ozone-depleting substances within the territory of the country for the year 2017. (4) Environmental Protection within the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) The EAEU was set up by an agreement between Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Russia on 29 May 2014 as an international organization of regional integration with the power to act in international relations, and it entered into force after its ratification by the three countries on 1 January 2015 (<http://www.eaeunion.org>). The EAEU now consists of five members since Armenia and Kyrgyzstan joined in 2015. The same agreement replaced the Customs Union Agreement established on 6 October 2007, which was integrated into the agreement on the EAEU. While concentrating principally on the facilitation and removal of customs and other barriers in trade relationships between members, the EAEU addresses global environment protection issues as well. On 29 May 2015, the EAEU members signed an agreement on transboundary movement of ozone-depleting substances in trade between EAEU member states. Under the agreement, trade (movement) in such substances within the customs borders by persons for personal needs shall be prohibited. In commercial operations, trade in ozone-depleting substances regulated by the Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer and the Montreal Protocol on Substances That Deplete the Ozone Layer shall be allowed upon the issuance of export and import permits, except for the movement of products containing ozone-depleting substances for personal need by citizens and in their carriage by aircrafts, ships, and other transportation means that are needed for their regular operation. Permits may be issued only for the volume of substances that will not exceed the limits established under the above international treaties. On 12 August, the Kyrgyz Republic joined the agreement on transboundary movement of ozone-depleting substances in trade between union member states. (5) Environmental Damage The problem of cleaning up environment damage sites has been raised for several years both in strategic documents and state programs of actions. For example, in 2011, under the Concept of the Federal Program on the Protection of the Baikal Lake and Socio-Economic Development of the Baikal Natural Territory, provision was made for allocating budgets to remove the past environmental damage within the Lake Baikal site that was inscribed in the World Heritage List in 1996. The Programs on Socio-Economic Development of the Arctic Zone of the Russian Federation till the Year 2020 (Collected Legislation of the Russian Federation  no. 18 (part IV) art. 2207) and on Protection of the Environment for the Period 2012–20, which were both adopted in 2014, (Collected Legislation of the Russian Federation  no. 18 (part III) art. 2171) provided for the allocation of budgets and helped to carry out practical actions to remove past environmental damage within the Archipelago Franz Iosif, which was aimed to overcome international commitments to prevent and remove pollution of the marine environment. The legal basis for removing the stocked environmental damage was set up by the amendments to the Federal Act on Environmental Protection, which was dated 3 July 2016 (Federal Act on Amending Selected Legislative Acts, no. 254-FZ (3 July 2016); Collected Legislation of the Russian Federation  no. 27 (Part I) art. 4187). Provision is made for taking inventory of the stocked environmental damage sites—both land-based and aquatic ones—and evaluation of their environmental threats. One of the criteria for recognizing a site is the concentration of polluting chemicals listed in the international treaties followed by the Russian Federation. The sites are to be divided into priority categories and are to be entered into the federal registry. These framework provisions still need to be further specified in procedural and material acts—for example, connected with the methodologies for calculating the damage removal obligations and determining who is responsible for such action. The issue will be partially resolved in relation to the sales of public sites and objects, when past pollution expenses shall be imposed on the purchaser (Recommendations of Goskomecologia (now Ministry of the Environment and Natural Resources), 22 December 1999). The principle responsibility of removing past damage within commercially unclaimed, but environmentally dangerous, sites, such as abandoned landfills, industrial entities sites, or large areas polluted in the past by radioactive or chemical substances and no longer used, has been assigned to the federal regions. As per the Governmental Order on Amending the State Program ‘Protection of the Environment, which is dated 13 August (Collected Legislation of the Russian Federation  no. 34, art. 5248), in order to remove past environmental damage within their territories, the federal regions shall receive subsidies from the federal budget. © The Author 2017. Published by Oxford University Press. All rights reserved. For permissions, please e-mail: email@example.com
Yearbook of International Environmental Law – Oxford University Press
Published: Dec 28, 2017
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