Russian Coal Giant to Lead Climate Change Discussions at State-Organised Conference

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One of the world’s largest coal companies with a history of climate policy obstruction is set to lead discussions on the Paris Agreement and carbon emissions at a Russian state-organised conference later this year.

SUEK, one of the world’s ten largest coal mining companies, is leading two climate change related sessions at an environmental forum in Moscow on December 12 to 14, a draft programme obtained by DeSmog UK shows. 

One session is about regulating greenhouse gas emissions and calculating the amount of CO2 absorbed by forests, and another deals with the “impacts of the Paris Agreement on the Russian economy”.

SUEK has a long history of lobbying against policies that would favour low carbon fuels. 

Apparently SUEK is very diligently lobbying for this idea that there is no need to rush and that Russia’s transition to a new energy model can be postponed for a number of reasons. Managing the two sessions is a good example of these lobbying efforts”, Vladimir Chuprov of Greenpeace Russia told DeSmogUK.

SUEK believes that the Russian forests absorb all carbon emitted in the country and more, which makes it a net sink, notes Michael Yulkin of CCGS, a climate consultancy, told DeSmog UK.                                                         

In its official statement on climate change, SUEK recognizes “that the production of coal and coal-fired generation are associated with GHG emissions”.

But, the statement goes on, “as the most affordable and widely available fuel on Earth, coal will long be a vital and cost-effective resource to meet rising demand for energy across the world”.

An April 2017 article by an employee of a SUEK subsidiary even makes the case for “coal as a low-carbon fuel”.

Independent analysis suggests 88 percent of known coal reserves will have to remain unburned if the world is going to prevent warming of more than two degrees above pre-industrial levels.

This June, SUEK’s owner and billionaire Andrey Melnichenko (who is perhaps best known in Britain for his superyacht that once moored in central London) told journalists that Russia will not have to make any global efforts to achieve its goals under the Paris Agreement because the country is already an “ecological donor” and not an emitter of greenhouse gases.

The company is frequently featured in public talks and conversations on climate change.

At a major August 2017 forum in Moscow, during a panel discussion on “constructive responses to climate challenges”, SUEK’s director for strategy Vladimir Tuzov compared carbon regulations to limits on ozone depleting CFCs set by the Montreal Protocol – which, according to him, were an elaborate turf war under the guise of environmental protection.

And now, when we look at how the game is organized under the Paris Agreement, we see the same economic levers”, Tuzov told the audience.

Christopher Monckton, a well-known climate science denier, was another speaker at that forum, where he was invited to participate in a “futuristic” session on climate forecasts.

A planned gathering of the forum’s organizers is due to take place on Thursday, and NGO representatives are expected to fight SUEK’s involvement.

SUEK and the Russian Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment did not offer a response in time for publication.

Main image credit: Lite via Wikimedia Commons CC0

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