Climate Agenda and New Opportunities for Economic Growth

By joining the Paris Agreement in 2019, Russia has shown its commitment to the strategic goals of sustainable development. At a business breakfast, which opened the program of the second day of the Gaidar Forum, experts discussed the balance between the goals and objectives of the country's development, primarily through ensuring of economic growth.

Preceding the expert speeches, the moderator of the “Climate Agenda: What Changes Everything?” session, the president of the Kurchatov Institute National Research Center Mikhail Kovalchuk noted that although humanity had previously been a part of nature, the launch of the expanded reproduction model and technological progress triggered the process of natural resources depletion. In recent decades, this model has spread not only in the countries of the "golden billion", but also in the rest of the world. According to Mikhail Kovalchuk, today it is difficult to talk about the sustainable development of the world, since this implies the availability of a sufficient amount of natural resources, “Obviously, these resources are not enough. If we continue to move within the framework of the paradigm of the existing technological structure, we will face a slaughter for resources, in which there will be no winner.”

First Deputy Minister of Natural Resources and Environment of the Russian Federation Denis Khramov spoke about the efforts of the Russian leadership and authorities to address the problems of ecology and climate change. According to Khramov, these issues have long been an important part of the domestic economic and political agenda. The expert mentioned the national project “Ecology” from the “May Decrees” of the President, which determined the goals and objectives of the country's development in the field of environmental protection and environmental safety of citizens, etc. Among the promising measures, he listed a plan to transfer 50 industries to environmentally friendly technologies to reduce technological impact, the issue green bonds, and reforestation.

First Deputy Minister of Economic Development of the Russian Federation Mikhail Rasstrigin noted in his speech that climate change, as well as a powerful public demand for reduction of greenhouse emissions and the development of alternative energy sources pose challenges for the Russian economy. First of all, we are talking about a potential decrease in demand for hydrocarbons and the so-called carbon protectionism.

To address climate change issues, a winner of the Nobel Peace Prize for Sustainable Development Rae Kwon Chung invited experts to answer the question: are climate changes a burden, or do they create new opportunities for economic development? Rae Kwon Chung is confident that they may become a new driver of economic growth, especially for such countries as Russia, which have sufficient territory and colossal potential for the development of wind energy, hydropower, and other types of alternative generation. The expert also expressed confidence that in the future Russia could become a significant exporter of a new type of energy.

According to En+ Group’s Chief Operating Officer Vyacheslav Solomin, it is too late and untimely to discuss the causes and symptoms of climate change. The expert believes that for Russian business the protection of nature is either a charity or a burden. According to Solomin, for more active and productive work in this area, the private sector needs state support.

One of the most vivid speakers of the session was the Director of the Center for Sustainable Development at Columbia University Jeffrey Sachs. “Let's be honest and acknowledge that we are losing this battle. The reality is that global processes are governed by resource economies. Nine out of top ten countries leading by emissions belong to this category. The only factor that can really change things is the drop in demand for gas and other types of hydrocarbon fuels over the next 15 years,” Mr. Sachs stated.

The session moderator Mikhail Kovalchuk argued with some of the most radical theses that were voiced, but he supported the opinion that decisive measures are needed to address the climate agenda. According to Mikhail Kovalchuk, the main task in achievement of the sustainable development goals is "the creation of a fundamentally new, nature-like economy and a new technological structure."

The organizers of the 11th Gaidar Forum are the Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration, the Gaidar Institute for Economic Policy, and the Association of Innovative Regions of Russia.

The title partners of the Gaidar Forum are PJSC Gazprom and JSC Gazprombank. The strategic partners are Coca-Cola, Mastercard, Russian Railways, Pharmstandard group of companies, Johnson & Johnson, Sanofi, Novartis group of companies, MSD, AKIG group of companies, EF Education First. Partners are Prosveshchenie group of companies, EY, Huawei, RVC JSC, Russian Agricultural Bank JSC.

The title information partners of the Gaidar Forum are the Russia-24 TV channel, TASS, RBC, Business FM. The strategic information partners are Kommersant Publishing House, Interfax, Rossiyskaya Gazeta, Invest Foresight magazine, Federal Press Agency. The main information partners are, Gazeta.Ru, Lenta.Ru,, Profile. International partners are RT, ThomsonReuters, Sputnik, EFE, Cision, Pan Pacific Agency. Information partners are Snob media project, AEI PRIME, RNS, Expert magazine, Parlamentskaya Gazeta,, Ekho Moskvy radio station, PRO Business TV channel, FINAM.RU information and analytical agency, Davydov.Index, Strategiya magazine, Ekonomika i Zhizn newspaper, Econs portal, Gosudarstvennaya Sluzhba magazine, TV BRICS.