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Премия рунета 2017

IGOR CHESTIN: ENVIRONMENTAL CARE SECURES ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

19 october 2017
The traditional approach, according to which environmental issues were considered possible only after economic growth, is irrelevant, declares Igor Chestin, Director of World Wildlife Fund (WWF), during his speech at the Valdai Club meeting in Sochi.

While there is a deep restructuring of the economy in the world, any attempts to rely on the traditional measures to speed up economic growth lead to technological backwardness.

‘It's time to set goals in the field of environmental quality first, and then to form the economy itself in accordance with these goals. We can provide you a whole series of examples of such work, reports Igor Chestin.

Catastrophic climate change and the transformation of territories that are leading to a reduction in the planet's capacity to produce resources and recycling, are two the most serious global problems nowadays.

Due to climate change in the energy sector, there is a profound structural reform in line with the goals of reducing greenhouse gas emission (in Europe) and atmosphere pollution (in the USA and China). At the same time, there were lots of correlative decades between the growth of greenhouse gas emission (primarily CO 2) and GDP has been missing since 2010.

So, despite the fact that 70% of China's energy is now produced at coal stations, in the next four years - by 2020-2022 - the cost of energy from renewable energy sources (RES) in China will be cheaper than coal.

In addition, in recent years there has been an accelerating outflow of investments (divestments) of energy based on fossil fuels. For example, the largest investor in the world, the Pension Fund of Norway, has already withdrawn its assets from all projects with these fuels.

At the same time, Russian Energy Strategy draft is based on the forecast of growth in demand for coal and hydrocarbons and assumes only a slight increase in RES. Coupled with the lack of ambitious energy efficiency objectives, which is confirmed by the forecasts of the International Energy Agency, it could be stated that the planned growing Russian backwardness and its transformation into an outsider in 2030.

Mikhail Bragin / WWF России
Daria Kudryavtseva \ WWF России
Mikhail Bragin / WWF России

Another global problem is the reduction of ability to produce the resources required by mankind and to process the generated waste. Earth's residents consume more resources and ecosystem services than the planet is able to make up during one calendar year. In 2017 people need 1.7 planets such as ours to provide the basic needs for biological resources - products of agriculture and forestry, marine fisheries and, of course, in the absorption of CO2.

However, positive trends have also emerged. Despite the fact that in the Southern hemisphere, area of tropical forests continues is to decline, the recovery of many boreal ecosystems observed in the Northern hemisphere. It is most clearly showed in Europe, where the amount of forest area is increasing, especially such species as beaver, red deer, lynx, brown bear. This applies to other regions of the Northern part of the planet: there are more buffaloes in the American prairies than they were 100 years ago, and a bison returned into Russian forests.

Even in the most densely populated and rapidly developing region, in Southeast Asia, there are some positive trends. In the beginning of the 20th century, about 100 thousand tigers lived there, in 2010 there were only about 3200 of them. However, by 2017 their number has increased to 3,900 animals. For the first time in 100 years they have managed to reverse the negative trend.

One of the important factors contributing to the restoration of disturbed ecosystems (and, as a result, to enhance the ability of biosphere to produce necessary resources and recycle waste) is urbanization, occurring on all continents but with different speed. Urbanization provides income increase for population, improves access to education, health and culture. As a result, the birth rate and the severity of conflicts for limited resources are reduced. Simultaneously the amount of the territories with natural processes is increasing.

‘In this regard, expecting or investing in the revival of village and its population raising means the same as nostalgia for typewriters or investing in tape cameras production, says Director of World Wildlife Fund.  One good example is recognized exporter of agricultural products Argentina with 90% of the population in cities and absolute lack of complexes on this topic. In Russia, this awareness has not come yet, as manifested in the constant attempts to ‘master’ in one way or another reserves and national parks that occupy only 3% of this country's territory, or with incomprehensible goals to go against urbanization through the distribution of Far Eastern hectares.’

According to words said by Igor Chestin, the articulation of the purposes to reduce greenhouse gas emission, atmosphere pollution, burden on natural ecosystems and their restoration and the creation of appropriate incentives to achieve them lead not only to positive changes in the quality of the environment. At the same time it guarantees positive economic and social outcomes. Thus, for example, in California, with the strictest environmental policy in the USA, there is the fastest economic growth and rising of working places.

‘Any attempts to rely on the current model to speed up economic growth drive only to the ‘Business asusual’ scenario, which probably has no place in the future’, resumes Igor Chestin.
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