The pace of the global energy transition, as well as the implementation of the Paris Agreement, aimed at keeping temperature changes below 1.5°C, has slowed due to the changing geopolitical situation. At the same time, the decisions of the Bonn conference of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), held in June this year, as well as the conference of environment ministers of the EU, have demonstrated the commitment to climate policy and the will to implement the measures of COP-26 (Glasgow Pact).
European Union countries, which were among the first to submit the low-carbon development strategy (2016-2021) to the UNFCCC, despite rising prices for traditional energy carriers, are gradually tightening national emission reduction obligations (NDC) and the requirements of importers of carbonaceous products. The list of goods subject to the border carbon tax (CBAM) from 2023 includes products from the ferrous and non-ferrous metallurgy, chemical industry, building materials and other industries with a high carbon footprint. From 2026, it is planned to supplement this list with products from the oil and gas and petrochemical industries, which makes the export of producing countries, including Kazakhstan, vulnerable.
In addition to strengthening previously adopted national commitments in the area of emission reduction – Fitfor55, EU countries complement their national strategies with regulations. In May this year, a new EU energy transition plan -REPowerEU- was adopted, aimed at accelerating the transition to clean energy sources and reducing Europe’s dependence on Russian energy resources. This plan is supposed to be implemented by solving the following tasks:
1. energy savings at all levels, from households to industrial enterprises;
2. diversification of energy supplies;
3. rapid replacement of fossil fuels by renewable energy sources;
4. a reasonable combination of investments and reforms.
For Kazakhstan, which has ratified the Paris Agreement and submitted national commitments in the field of GHG emissions (in the amount of 15 to 25% of the 1990 level by 2030), the objective of achieving carbon neutrality by 2060, set by Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokaïev remains very ambitious and requires a modernization of climate policy.
The basic element of the modernization of climate policy and the strategy being developed to achieve carbon neutrality until 2060 (subsequent strategy) should be the improvement of the carbon regulation system which stimulates decarbonisation. The current carbon regulation system in Kazakhstan does not meet the country’s GHG reduction commitments and needs to be radically improved.
Second, climate goals should be a legal act. It is important to have an ambitious and stable long-term political environment. Among the top 10 GHG emitters in the world, Canada and EU countries have legally binding targets. Given an increasingly unstable political climate marked by rising populism, climate change efforts should not be held hostage to shifting political priorities. Setting a country’s climate goals in the strategies, plans and programs of central and local government agencies and national enterprises, to be implemented at sectoral and local levels, can provide stability and certainty, contributing to the country’s sustainable progress.
Third, energy security planning must require maintaining sufficient spare capacity and storage infrastructure, using market mechanisms to incentivize investment in these solutions. Additional benefits and a role in energy security should be played by energy efficiency and energy saving. The transparent and consistent dissemination of information, the restoration of energy oversight institutions and the development of measures taking into account the distribution of responsibilities between consumer groups can help stimulate public participation in improving energy efficiency. energy.
The next direction is to reduce the risk of investment in clean energy is essential to maintain capital inflows. Investment in the country’s energy transition has increased over the past decade, but this increase in investment has occurred during a decade of economic growth and has been fueled in part by accommodative monetary policy and rising interest rates. low reference interest. To date, the financing gap remains large, so reducing the risk of energy investments is essential.
Finally, equity and justice must be at the center of the energy transition. In recent decades, due to the relative inelasticity of energy demand, high energy prices have contributed to high levels of consumer price inflation. Vulnerable populations and small businesses are the first to be affected, highlighting equity and equity concerns in the energy transition. Maintaining energy availability is essential not only for economic growth and social well-being, but also to support policies to combat climate change.
In general, the decarbonization process in the country requires systematic work and the adoption of appropriate investment, legal and institutional reforms both in the field of public administration and in the field of development planning. national economy. Due to the cross-sectoral nature of measures to achieve carbon neutrality, the importance of ensuring the country’s energy security in the subregion, there is an urgent need to create a coordination structure under the chairmanship of the President of Kazakhstan under the form of the Agency for Alternative Energy and Climate with the support of the UN.
The government, scientists, experts, businesses must understand that the decisions that will be included in this strategy today will determine the prospects for sustainable development not only of Kazakhstan, but of the entire Eurasian region in the future. Thus, the strategy for achieving carbon neutrality in Kazakhstan until 2060, which is essentially a strategy for the diversification of the economy and its technological breakthrough, should become a new long-term strategic document during the renewal of the socio-economic policy of the country.
The author is Dr. Bakhyt Yessekina, member of the Green Economy Council to the President of Kazakhstan, director of the scientific and educational center of the Green Academy.