On the environmental policy on the eve of the scheduled Year of Environment
Statement by Grigory Yavlinsky and Alexei Yablokov, 27.12.2016
The joint statement by Grigory Yavlinsky and Alexei Yablokov was published in late December 2016. Two weeks later Alexei V. Yablokov passed away. This crucial document, which proposes the ways to reduce morbidity and mortality in Russia, has turned out to be the political heritage of environmental scientist Alexei Yablokov.
The Press Office of YABLOKO, 11.01.2017
The upcoming 2017 was established as the scheduled Year of Environment by a decree of the President of our country. A meeting of the National Council of Russia, which will be devoted to the issues of the environmental development of the country, was arranged for December 27, 2017. The time schedule of the Year of Environment developed by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Protection includes a large number of events.
It should seem that finally the authorities have seriously turned towards the environment. But this impression is deceptive. Talking “about the environment” cannot substitute for the solution of the environmental problems.
Thus, renewal of forests is slower than destruction of forests due to cutting and forest fires (and this was envisaged by the Forest Code of the Russian Federation, despite the fact that academics, public activists and foresters opposed its adoption).
The growing pollution of rivers and other bodies of water was aggravated by the Water Code, that halved the water conservation zones and weakened the protection of waters.
Solving the problem of solid domestic waste is on the way of squeezing the sector of small and medium-sized businesses, which represent the basis of a successful solution of solid domestic waste problems in all countries.
According to the development of renewable energy sources and power supply sources, our country falls behind all the developed countries without exception, and this gap is not narrowing but growing.
The attack on protected natural areas mounts under the pretext of advertising campaigns in support of tigers, leopards and snow leopards. Old-growth Mediterranean forests, which have been preserved for hundred years, stretching along the Black Sea coast are being unlawfully covered with VIP-houses. Unlawful seizure of banks and restriction of free access of people to water bodies takes place in all recreational areas. Commercial development all over diminishes green space in suburban and urban areas.
The government environmental and health-related monitoring became a fiction. The necessity of animal protection laws has been under discussion for years while the level of animal abuse keeps growing.
The long-tern policy of the government on the creation of different obstacles to the work of independent environmental groups ended up in including a large number of these groups in the list of foreign agents.
The path of development chosen by the Kremlin where Russia is given the raw-exports role of the developed countries – as well as the self-isolation course and retreat form the European path of development which took place in recent years – generates more and more environmental problems. In our opinion, the President must make a decision on restoring an independent state environmental agency in one day instead of announcing the scheduled Year of Environment.
If the legislators had such a wish they could revive the environmental laws which have been diluted over the past 16 years within half a year and provide:
– the creation of the state environmental fund (for targeted use of fees for emissions and discharges of pollutants which are now blending in the budget):
– the reintroduction of the State Environmental Expertise Institution to the full extent;
– the creation of economic incentives to improve environmental quality and energy efficiency
Within months the government could:
– improve the efficiency of state forest protection dramatically;
– prohibit hazardous incineration technology;
– prohibit the construction of new nuclear power plants and provide real support to the development of renewable energy sources;
– introduce compulsory insurance of environmental risks;
– prohibit oil extraction in the Arctic until safe technologies are developed;
– re-introduce the study of ecology in schools.
If the Public Prosecution Office of the RF had a wish to help solving environmental problems, within a few weeks they could:
– develop and adopt effective measures to stop the widespread falsification of the results of public hearings on the urban and industrial development projects;
– launch a campaign for the demolition of all illegal constructions in conservation areas and on the banks of a water bodies.
The Supreme Court of the RF could emphasize the importance of lifting the common practice of solving environmental disputes without regard to the public interest.
And, of course, one of the priority cases should be the rejection of the state policy of restricting the activities of non-governmental environmental organisations.
Such a policy switch of the state in order to solve the accumulated environmental issues will result into the reduction in morbidity and mortality associated with environmental factors and improvement of the quality of life of Russian citizens. And there will be no need to be engaged in window dressing by means of the scheduled Year of Environment.
Grigory Yavlinsky, Chair of YABLOKO Political Committee
Alexei Yablokov, Chair of the Green Russia faction of YABLOKO