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What is Russiaʼs pathway to limit global warming to 1.5°C?

Last update: May 2022

Ambition gap

Russiaʼs total GHG emissions

excl. LULUCF MtCO₂e/yr

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Displayed values
Reference year
−100%−80%−60%−40%−20%0%19902010203020502070
Net zero GHG excl. LULUCF*
2062
Reference year
1990
1.5°C emissions level
−76%
NDC
−23%
Ambition gap
−52%
  • 1.5°C compatible pathways
  • Middle of the 1.5°C compatible range
  • Current policy projections
  • 1.5°C emissions range
  • Historical emissions

*Net zero emissions excl LULUCF is achieved through deployment of BECCS; other novel CDR is not included in these pathways

Summary

In late 2020 Russia updated its NDC from a 25-30% reduction below 1990 levels by 2030, to a 30% reduction.1 This does not represent an increase in ambition as government projections show Russia will achieve this target under current unambitious policies.2

1 Russian Federation. NATIONALLY DETERMINED CONTRIBUTION OF the RUSSIAN FEDERATION. (2020).

2 Russian Federation. Russian Federation Fourth Biennial Report. (2019).

3 Russian Federation. Strategy for the Socio – Economic Development of Russia with Low Greenhouse Gas Emissions until 2050. (2021).

4 IPCC. 2006 IPCC Guidelines for National Greenhouse Gas Inventories, Chapter 6: Wastewater Treatment and Discharge. (2006).

5 Russian Federation. Russia Energy Strategy 2035. (2020).

6 Government of Russia. Russian Federation 2021 Common Reporting Format (CRF) Table. (2021).

7 IEA. World Energy Outlook 2016. (2016) doi:10.1787/weo-2016-en.

8 IEA. World Energy Outlook 2020. (2020).

9 Climate Transparency. Russia – Climate Transparency Report. (2020).

10 Vavina, E. Russia will allocate 725 billion rubles for the development of renewable energy by 2050. Vedomosti. (2019).

11 Climate Action Tracker. CAT Climate Action Update Tracker: Russian Federation. (2021).

12 IRENA. Remap 2030: Renewable Energy Prospects for the Russian Federation. A Renewable Energy Prospects for Ukraine (2017).

13 Russian Railways. Strategy for the Development of Rail Transport in the Russian Federation up to 2030. (2008).

14 The Moscow Times. Russia Rejects Climate Change Plan After Business Uproar. The Moscow Times. (2019).

15 IEA. World Energy Balances 2021. (International Energy Agency, 2021).

16 Davydova, A. Business is decarbonizing on paper and in corporate reports. Kommersant (2021)..

17 Russian Federation. Russian Draft Energy Efficiency Action Plan 2020. (2020).

18 Climate Transparency. Russia – Climate Transparency Report. (2021).

19 Stolyarov, G. Moscow, capital of oil-rich Russia, targets electric car growth. Reuters (2021).

20 While global cost-effective pathways assessed by the IPCC Special Report 1.5°C provide useful guidance for an upper-limit of emissions trajectories for developed countries, they underestimate the feasible space for such countries to reach net zero earlier. The current generation of models tend to depend strongly on land-use sinks outside of currently developed countries and include fossil fuel use well beyond the time at which these could be phased out, compared to what is understood from bottom-up approaches. The scientific teams which provide these global pathways constantly improve the technologies represented in their models – and novel CDR technologies are now being included in new studies focused on deep mitigation scenarios meeting the Paris Agreement. A wide assessment database of these new scenarios is not yet available; thus, we rely on available scenarios which focus particularly on BECCS as a net-negative emission technology. Accordingly, we do not yet consider land-sector emissions (LULUCF) and other CDR approaches which developed countries will need to implement in order to counterbalance their remaining emissions and reach net zero GHG are not considered here due to data availability.

21 Some pathways include sinks based on bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS), thus this is a conservative estimate.

22 Some pathways include sinks based on bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS).

Russia would need to almost triple its planned 2030 emissions reductions to at least 65% below 1990 levels (excluding LULUCF) to be 1.5°C compatible.

Russia’s draft long-term climate strategy targets a 36-48% reduction in emissions below 1990 levels by 2050.3

This stands in contrast with 1.5°C compatible pathways, which show a reduction in total GHG emissions of at least 90% by 2050 below 1990 levels or around 321 MtCO₂e/yr, when excluding emissions from the land sector.20

Russia will need to balance its remaining emissions to reach net zero GHG. The Russian government aims to increase its large current LULUCF sink substantially beyond 2030, but questions remain regarding an announced change to emissions accounting in the forestry sector that would violate IPCC reporting guidelines.4

A comprehensive re-evaluation of the future role of fossil fuels in the Russian economy is needed to shift Russia to a 1.5°C compatible trajectory, which would require 92-100% renewable energy generation by 2050.

Power

Key power sector benchmarks

Renewables shares and year of zero emissions power Including the use of BECCS

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1.5°C aligned targets
Current targets

Russia’s Energy Strategy 2035 forecasts an increase in domestic coal, natural gas, gasoline, and diesel consumption by as much as 3%, 5%, 6% and 20%, respectively by 2035.5

This diverges dramatically from a 1.5°C pathway for Russia, which requires a complete phase out of coal from the power sector by 2030 and overall emissions falling by at least 63% by the same year.

Ratcheting up Russia’s current, weak 4.5% non-hydropower renewable generation target by 2024, and implementing policies to begin rolling these technologies out at scale could help close its large ambition gap.

Buildings

Key buildings sector benchmarks

Shares of electricity, hydrogen and biofuels in final energy demand in the buildings sector.

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Direct emissions from the building sector in Russia have been skyrocketing in recent years, reaching a 28-year high in 2019 due to increases in both oil and gas consumption. A 1.5°C pathway for Russia’s building sector would see direct CO₂ emissions fall by just over three quarters below 2019 levels (of 220 MtCO₂)by 2030, reaching zero around 2050.

Transport

Key transport sector benchmarks

Shares of electricity, hydrogen and biofuels in final energy demand in the transport sector.

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Russia’s climate policies targeting the transport sector are badly lacking, with no plans to phase out the sale of light or heavy-duty fossil fuel vehicles, while support for, and sales of, electric vehicles (EVs) remain vanishingly low.

Transport emissions in Russia increased steeply over a decade from their 1997 low. They remained relatively flat after the 2008 economic slowdown, but they have been increasing again in recent years.

A fall in transport emissions of at least half below 2019 levels will need to occur by 2030 to align this sector with 1.5°C pathways, led by a steep increase in electrification to between a quarter and a third of total transport final energy demand from its current level of 7%.

Industry

Key industry sector benchmarks

Shares of electricity, hydrogen and biomass in final energy demand in the industry sector. Year of reaching net zero emissions Including the use of BECCS.

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Pathways aligned with 1.5°C show Russian energy-related CO₂ emissions could fall by roughly half below 2019 levels by 2030, and hitting zero by 2050. Process emissions, generally a harder emissions type to mitigate, would need to fall by a third by 2030 and at least 70% by 2050.

Footnotes