Russia significantly reduces environmental protection amid war rage and economic crisis

Russia quietly facilitates the construction of pipelines in nature reserves, abolishes regulations on car emissions, and has a broad role in environmental regulations that appear to regain pace in the Ukrainian war and severe recession. As part of the back, we pushed back measures to reduce pollution.

Business organizations are working to abolish many environmental clauses, claiming to help mitigate the effects of Western sanctions and the economic crisis.

“Things are changing,” environmental journalist Angelina Davidova told the Moscow Times. “Some specific environmental standards and laws have been rolled back.”

In particular, a law passed last month has made it easier for businesses to undertake major construction projects on the Special Protected Natural Territory (OOPT), which covers approximately 12.5% ​​of Russian territory.

Earlier versions of the law were watered down after public protests and congressional opposition, but the final version still seems ready to signal the arrival of significant changes.

Julia Davidova, a spokesman for the Russian branch of Greenpeace, said:

In particular, campaign participants are worried about the construction of oil and gas pipelines. These pipelines are often constructed with substandard equipment and are at risk of leakage.

“Even after the law comes into force, the risk of technical impact within OOPT is seriously increased,” said Dmitry Gorshkov, head of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) in Russia.

Since the beginning of the war, many of the other legislative amendments affecting environmental standards have included delays in previously approved regulations.

Baikal Nature Reserve.
Lynx4502 (CC BY-SA 4.0)

Head of Environmental Watchdog Rosprirodnadzor Svetlana Radionova publication Last month, all environmental reviews of the company were frozen for two years.

And the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment Pushed back Two years by the deadline for the Clean Air Project, a government initiative to control the emission of harmful particles in Russia’s most polluted cities.

Authorities need such changes to stimulate economic activity and give Russian companies the opportunity to adapt to the new economic conditions created by Western sanctions and the withdrawal of many Western companies from Russia. Insist.

According to Russia’s economy could shrink by more than 10% this year predict According to the World Bank.

The Business Lobby Group is at the center of efforts to persuade the government to relax regulations on emissions and pollution standards.

Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs (RSPP) – Influential Business Lobby Group – Sent A letter to Deputy Prime Minister Viktoria Abramchenko, who oversees the environment, in March, suggesting 43 regulatory changes.

This included a multi-year delay for companies that were required to install emission monitoring and control systems after government receipt. Environmental permit..

Davydova of Greenpeace said 42 of the 43 RSPP initiatives “weak environmental regulations and give businesses free access in a way that ensures that the country faces multiple accidents and disasters.” rice field.

One of the hottest regulations roll back It has been done in the automotive manufacturing industry since the beginning of the Ukrainian War – as of early May, Russian automakers no longer have to comply with the pollution control standards used in the European Union.

Not only does this lead to increased pollution, but it also reduces passenger safety.Kommersant’s daily business report..

A factory in Omsk, Russia. Ilya Makarov (CC BY 3.0)
A factory in Omsk, Russia.
Ilya Makarov (CC BY 3.0)

According to journalist Davydova, the pressure on a particular change usually comes from either a business group or an individual company.

“The business community as a whole [environmental] Requirements, “she said.

Many are afraid that the government may try to crack down on environmental activists at the same time as the abolition of laws and the withdrawal of regulations.

“During the war, the economy was under pressure and environmental activity is considered almost a betrayal,” Igor Ivanov, an activist in the northern Komi Republic, told the Russian service of the Moscow Times.

Ivanov fine 30,000 rubles ($ 530) by a Russian court earlier this month for anti-war social media posts.

Other environmental and climate change activists have fled abroad for fear of criminal prosecution since the beginning of the war. This absence can further weaken surveillance when it comes to environmental issues in the field.

In a broader sense, many fear that the Ukrainian invasion will change the Kremlin’s political priorities and that major climate reforms may soon be abolished.

According to Greenpeace’s Davydova, the Russian Ministry of Energy may even consider a goal of reaching net zero carbon emissions by 2060.

In any case, as the war prolongs and Russia’s economic problems worsen, officials and companies will not give up their efforts to abolish regulations aimed at protecting the environment and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

“The new norms lead to weakening the environmental control of corporate activities at all levels,” said WWF Gorshkov. Russia significantly reduces environmental protection amid war rage and economic crisis

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