Putin tells COP26 forest conservation vital to curbing climate change

Russian President Vladimir Putin addresses participants of a forest and land use event as part of the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26), via video link from the Novo-Ogaryovo state residence outside Moscow, Russia November 2, 2021. Sputnik/Evgeniy Paulin/Kremlin via REUTERS

MOSCOW, Nov 2 (Reuters) - President Vladimir Putin said it was vital to protect forests to curb climate change and that Russia would draw on its own vast forestland to meet its emissions pledges, speaking in a pre-recorded video broadcast at the COP26 climate talks on Tuesday.

Putin, whose absence from the U.N. talks in Glasgow is seen as a setback to their chances of a breakthrough, said that Moscow supported a draft joint declaration on forests and land use at the talks.

"I'm convinced the conservation of forests and other natural ecosystems is a key component of international efforts to tackle global warming and reduce greenhouse gas emissions," he said, according to a Kremlin transcript.

Russia, the world's fourth largest greenhouse gas emitter, is a major hydrocarbons producer and exporter, and the push for greener forms of energy is seen a serious challenge for the Russian economy.

Putin said last month Russia would aim for carbon neutrality by 2060, a decade later than the 2050 deadline climate scientists say is necessary if the worst impacts of global warming are to be avoided.

Putin said that 20% of the world's forests were located in Russia and that Moscow was investing to conserve that forestland, pushing back against illegal logging and forest fires.

In August, it was hit by some of its worst forest fires yet, with blazes in the diamond-producing region of Yakutia spewing out greenhouse gases. read more

"Russia is committed to achieving a carbon-neutral economy by 2060 at the latest and is relying, among other things, on the unique natural resource of its forest ecosystems and their significant capacity to absorb carbon dioxide and produce oxygen," Putin said.

"We are taking the most serious and vigorous measures to conserve them, improving forest management, fighting against illegal logging and forest fires, increasing the area of reforestation and steadily increasing funding for these purposes," he said.

Reporting by Tom Balmforth; editing by Barbara Lewis

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