Sanctioned tycoon says Russia wants to get involved in climate issues


A Russian billionaire who is being sanctioned by the United States and Europe for alleged ties to the Kremlin said on Wednesday that he was not surprised by the protests against his country at the talks. climate change this year, but stressed that Russia wants to continue to participate in global affairs. warming because it deeply affects the nation.

Andrey Melnichenko, head of the climate policy council of the Russian business lobby group RSPP, told The Associated Press that “regardless of the very terrible times we are all going through right now, we will join, we will observe” at the meeting in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt.

Pro-Ukraine activists interrupted the start of an event hosted by the Russian delegation at the climate talks on Tuesday before being escorted out by security personnel.

“I’m not surprised,” said Melnichenko, who was speaking at the conference along with Russian delegates. “What’s surprising? That there are people who care deeply about what’s happening in Ukraine and want to give their opinion?”

“I completely understand that 100 per cent,” he said.

His comments, while not directly criticizing Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, offer a more nuanced view of the bloody conflict than the official Kremlin line, which describes the war. was a “special military operation”.

Since late February, war has ravaged Ukraine, with bombs and shells ravaging towns and cities and killing thousands.

The war has resulted in a series of sanctions being imposed on Russian officials and prominent businessmen with ties to the Kremlin.

Melnichenko – now living in Dubai – criticizes Western sanctions against Russia, which he says are applied without regard for possible consequences, such as export restrictions fertilizers will affect global food prices and Russia’s efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions. Russia is the world’s largest fertilizer exporter.

“Sanctions are like a blanket over the Russian economy,” said Melnichenko, who used to run fertilizer producer Eurochem and SUEK, one of the world’s largest coal companies. “It affects everything. Take for example food supplies and fertilizers.”

He claimed the sanctions had affected the food supply for “hundreds of millions” of people worldwide.

“Of course, this decision affects Russia’s ability to move faster on the path of decarbonizing its economy,” Melnichenko added.

Russian participants at the climate talks in Egypt have kept a low public profile, with no top government officials attending. According to analysis by Carbon Brief, although the Russian delegation was only half as large as last year, it still outnumbered the US delegation.

According to Melnichenko, Russia is? special focus on efforts to reduce emissions and dependence on fossil fuels, along with rules for international carbon markets and carbon offsets – an issue the Russian government sees as potential huge thanks to the huge forests of the country.

Melnichenko said that Russia will continue to export fossil fuels to meet demand and should let the market decide which form of energy is most competitive. Russia is a top exporter of oil and natural gas despite facing sanctions from EU trading partners. Other countries, such as India and China, continue to import Russian oil.

“I believe that Russian fossil fuel production is (very) competitive globally in terms of total costs, including external factors,” he said. “That’s why Russia will be able to maintain (a) sizable share of the fossil fuel market for quite a long time, a very long time, and benefit from that as well.”

Melnichenko, who according to Forbes is worth about $23.5 billion, said the world community should pay more attention to the majority of greenhouse gas emissions that are not caused by human activities, such as respiration, decomposition. and even volcanoes. Scientists say the global warming measured in recent decades is mainly due to the large-scale burning of fossil fuels since industrialization.

When asked what role climate change concerns play in Russian civil society, he said that environmental problems such as air pollution have become more prominent in major cities in six to seven years. past year.

He stressed that peaceful protests on the issue are possible. “And the government really responds.”

“It’s one of those areas where you can have freedom of speech,” he said. “And that’s understandable because it’s pretty politically safe.”


The Associated Press’s climate and environment coverage receives support from a number of private foundations. See more about AP’s climate initiative here. AP is solely responsible for all content.

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