Russia's first climate lawsuit filed over greenhouse emissions

Sun shines through steam rising from chimneys of a power plant in Moscow, Russia November 13, 2019. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov

MOSCOW, Sept 13 (Reuters) - Russia's first climate lawsuit was filed in the Supreme Court on Tuesday by activists who demanded Russia take urgent steps to radically reduce greenhouse gas emissions to meet its obligations under the 2015 Paris Agreement.

Two organizations - Ekozashita (Eco-defence) and the Moscow Helsinki Group, Russia's oldest human rights organization, which was founded by Soviet dissidents - and 18 individuals are listed among the plaintiffs. They said the lawsuit was the first of its kind to be accepted by a court in Russia.

Russia, along with the United States, is one of the world's biggest per capita emitters of greenhouse gases, but the lawsuit, seen by Reuters, says authorities have made insufficient efforts to slow climate change.

The activists said Russia, renowned for its brutal winters, is warming up dangerously fast.

"While temperatures around the world have risen by about 1°C compared to pre-industrial levels over the past 50 years, in Russia they have risen by 2.5°C and this ratio will continue or even worsen in the future," says the lawsuit.

The Paris Agreement aims to keep temperature gains well below 2 degrees Celsius in hopes of averting the worst consequences of climate change.

Individual plaintiffs named include Arshak Makichyan, a climate activist and associate of Greta Thunberg, and human rights activist Pavel Sulyandziga.

Russia has made two major climate pledges: a presidential decree under which by 2030 greenhouse gas emissions should be reduced to 70% of their 1990 level, and a Russian government decree under which by 2050 emissions should be reduced to 20% of their 1990 level.

The activists demanded the cancellation of those decrees and the setting instead of more ambitious targets.

They said that by 2030, greenhouse gas emissions in Russia should be cut to 31% of 1990 levels, and that by 2050 they should not exceed 5% of 1990 levels.

"Only by following these targets can Russia meet its obligations under the Paris Climate Agreement," the activists said.

Editing by Catherine Evans

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