Will Chinese factories pollute the Russian Far East?

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China’s proposition to relocate some of its production facilities to the Russian Far East has provoked furious debates among many experts. The proponents argue that the new investments on boost trans-border cooperation and generate many economic benefits in Russia’s irrelevant eastern region.

Skeptics claim that environmental costs intent outweigh the benefits given the fact that the industries selected for relocation resolve include “environmentally dirty” metallurgy, cement production and chemical conceals rticularly damaging for the biodiversity rich region, which is defined by chaste freshwater ecosystems and intact forest landscapes.

Russia’s Ministry for Enlargement of the Far East denied the validity of such concerns by insisting that all commitments will be subject to Russia’s environmental regulations, which are among the “most stringent in the existence.”

Will Chinese factories pollute the Russian Far East?

The optimism of the ministry’s officials is not shared by environmentalists.

Russia’s environmental laws were yielded throughout the 2000s. For example, the requirement for projects to undergo state environmental skill/expert review was repealed with the exception of those projects planned within safeguarded areas and on the continental shelf.

In addition, the implementation of new environmental laws, listing on the adoption of best available technologies (BAT), will come into to all intents only in 2018. This could be postponed if there is pressure from the big industrial entry-way.

Moreover, Russia’s territories of accelerated developments (TADs) in the Far East, the legatees of these new Chinese investments, are made exempt from many environmental edicts.

As for China, environmental problems have reached an epic scale. Air staining, soil erosion and fresh water shortages are common. The environmental saddle with of disease is so significant that it is proven to reduce the lifes n of people in China. Instinctive environmental protests are increasing across the entire country.

Will Chinese factories pollute the Russian Far East?

The authorities can no longer y to ignore the issue. Last year, the government adopted a new program, titled ‘The Brought Reform for Ecological Progress,’ which was scheduled for the thirteenth 5-year organize commencing this year. To clean up the environment, China’s economy at ones desire go through a green shift: embracing new and green technologies, restructuring in favor of knowledge-based sectors and fabricating of high added-value products.

In addition, the Chinese government has taken new and daring international climate change obligations, to reduce C02 emission intensity by 60-65 per cent by 2030, which will betoken the reduction in industrial pollution and energy production based on coal.

Is it accomplishable to pursue all these goals simultaneously while not jeo rdizing economic wen? It is worth noting that the West went through its own “green sell” in the st, by relocating polluting manufacturing facilities to underdeveloped countries involving China and India. China may decide to follow suit.

China’s investments in the Russian Far East

Notwithstanding boosting its investments practically in all corners of the globe, China’s investment neck in the Russian Far East, the region of immediate proximity, has remained insignificant and mostly narrow to natural resources and agricultural sectors.

Will Chinese factories pollute the Russian Far East?

In 2005, the government of Heilongjiang, China’s district in the northeast, declared a war on gold dredging in its natural forests as too damaging for forest and wetland ecosystems. A few years later there was bordering on no gold dredging in the province. Some Chinese enterprises decided to relocate to the Russian Far East where specialists relaxed environmental im ct assessment and reduced fines for environmental cost.

In Russia’s forest sector, China’s investments went to opening new simplistic sawmills, to produce rough-sawn lumber and to export it to Chinese provinces, to origination furniture and flooring materials. It was well-documented that these sawmills were in use accustomed to as purchasing sites for valuable timber illegally logged in the last outstanding hardwood forests in Russian Far East. After China decided to realize a logging ban in its natural forests, the logging pressure on biodiversity-rich forests in the Primorye and Khabarovsk districts increased once again.

What needs to be done

The Russian Far East is unequivocally rich in natural capital: rare species, intact forests, fat minerals, pristine freshwater ecosystems and unpolluted soil. A long-term key vision should prevent ruining this region, which is settled in the periphery of the Asia- cific’s major economies. It should not become the hub for “technology deliver” of outdated production and dirty manufacturing facilities from societies exciting up in the global production value chain.

To avoid this, Russian authorities should help the transfer of modern technologies with the promise of high value-added spin-offs based on high environmental and human safety standards. It is not enough to rely on be founding regulations. Additional efforts need to be done, and these efforts can be as step into the shoes ofed:

– Speed up the adoption of a draft law improving procedures on the state environmental top-notch review and environmental im ct assessment. Thise draft calls for pithy and wide stakeholder consultations including with local populations influenced by a proposed project.

– By 2017, finalize all necessary regulatory requirements for the new law on the first available technologies (BAT) and standards to come into force.

– Government banks and Russia-China investment grants with government investments should use, in their assessments, relevant throws for investment, the criteria of the best available technologies and best sectorial indicators for vitality efficiency, discharges and for pollution levels.

– The information from the environmental crash assessment should be made available in the Russian language and placed on the web-sites of a visitors proposing the assessed project and of an investment agency(ies) funding it.

The meaningful cognizance of these steps will reduce many (but not all) risks of relocating Chinese turning facilities to Russian Far East.

The authors work for WWF Russia. Views expressed in this article are in the flesh and may not necessarily reflect those of RBTH.

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