Viacheslav Fetisov commented on sanctions related to environmental issues
16.06.2022 Fetisov on ecology: ‘Green Economy Should not be Sanctioned. Putin Has Depoliticized Climate, Ecology and Biodiversity Issues.’

- Over the last two or three years, the leadership of our country has done a lot to help Russian business integrate into the global environmental agenda. It has become clear what the UN Sustainable Development Goals are and what they are for. But the latest sanctions are forcing the country to focus on import substitution. One gets the impression that environmental issues are receding into second or even third place. Is this true?

- Both true and not. We must understand that it is necessary for us. By the example of the accumulated damage that we still cannot eliminate, we understand that this problem is getting worse every year.

The State Duma has submitted a package of anti-sanctions measures to the government. I ask questions to economists, so that I could understand if I have to vote for this or that document: are there any economic calculations, so that I can avoid thinking about ecology? Unfortunately, there is no answer.

On the other side there’s an example of NORNICKEL (I was recently in Norilsk). A year ago, the company established a plant that will reduce sulfur emissions by 95%; if we talk globally about the Arctic, this is the biggest problem today.

Among other things, there were some claims against the Russian Federation. Nevertheless, the company is investing 300 billion in order to implement this project. The whole Arctic, and we have a lot of Arctic neighbors, should understand this as a goodwill gesture. Especially with all the sanctions that have been imposed on Russia.

On the other hand, at one time UN Secretary General António Guterres came to Moscow and said: improving the environment is a common task. But the equipment that is needed to clean up the nature of the Arctic falls under sanctions. Where is the logic? There is no answer.

One doesn't have to be too smart to realize that this whole story goes against humanity. Conflicts end sooner or later. All conflicts. And in these five years that the project hasn’t been working, how many tons of sulfur will spill out into the Arctic? And what damage it has already done!

I have said it all along: green economy and green technologies should not be sanctioned. We understand that nature and ecology have no boundaries. It has common goals to improve the situation. But we are running in the other direction, not understanding that this will cost more over time, and it will most likely be too late. This is the logic I do not understand.

Going back to the question... In fact, last year, our President Vladimir Putin depoliticized climate, ecology, and biodiversity. Speaking at two conferences, he said that our children and grandchildren need this. And of course, by shifting environmental requirements for production to the right, are we doing good on this issue? Or are we making it worse now?

Returning to Nornickel, I can say with absolute certainty that the problem with the oil product spill was not technical, but natural.

- It wasn't Nornickel's fault?

- No. The piles of the platform where the tanker was standing were not pushed to the earth. Now there is a warming-up, which will eventually cost a lot of companies and countries a lot of problems. But the issue has not been studied in any way.

In Norilsk, they now have sensors hooked up to every pile: both the piles under residential buildings and the piles under industrial ones. Now they can see how permafrost melting affects them. If the piles start to thaw, they use blast freezing. Norilsk Nickel, as a result of identifying problems that cost them a lot of money, started making the right decisions.

I can say more. Before all these conflicts, the companies that are the main buyers of products were flying to Norilsk. And they watched the construction of this northern project going on. Because they understand that if they buy products from a company that is ‘dirty’ in terms of standards, it will cost them a lot of money. Extra money. And after making sure everything was going right, they signed the contract.

It seems to me that any decision in our country must be taken in terms of its impact on the environment. For example, at one time they had built a pulp and paper mill on the shore of Lake Baikal. It was shut down in modern history. But we are not able to clear this territory, despite 18 presidential instructions. Because there are no technologies.

Before we make a decision, we must understand how we will deal with the accumulated damage and which harm will be done for the future of our country. The issue of water today, I believe, is becoming more and more important every day. Without water there can be no life on Earth. Without gas, without oil, without something else, most likely, we will survive, but not without water, said the Chairman of VOOP and two-time Olympic ice hockey champion.

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