COP26: Russian ambassador to London denies his country lacks urgency over climate change

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Watch: COP26: Russian ambassador to London denies his country lacks urgency over climate change

Russia's ambassador to London has denied his country shows a lack of urgency on climate change and told Sky News it is "very much alert" to the issue because temperatures there are rising faster than elsewhere.

Andrei Kelin told Sky's Dermot Murnaghan that the absence of President Vladimir Putin from the COP26 conference in Glasgow did not stop high-level discussions taking place.

He said this was illustrated by Russia having already stated it would work towards a low carbon economy by 2050 and carbon neutrality by 2060

He said: "We are very much alert to the whole issue because… the rise of temperature in Russia is going quicker than in many other countries.

"The programme has been done quickly in October, just on the eve of the Glasgow summit.

"Some world leaders decided to present the pledges, some decided not to present.

"In our case, it was a very high-level presentation."

"This programme has been presented by the vice prime minister and we have very important figures from the government and industry in Glasgow who are explaining what has happened."

Asked whether Mr Putin's absence showed a lack of urgency from Russia, he said: "No. The difficulty is that there is very low knowledge about what we are doing.

"The balance of our energy production is really green. It is 40% green energy - hydro energy, solar energy plus others, and atomic energy… in the balance.

"If you add gas to it, it will make about 86%, [a] very high figure.

"You will not find a similar figure in Germany, for instance.

"It is close to the United States. United States is about 76% green energy. We are very low production of coal at the moment, and we continue to do that.

"Another figure which is important: during the last 20 years, each year, we are reducing emissions of greenhouse gases by 2.7%... It is a high figure."

Watch: What is the Paris Agreement?

Mr Kelin made his comments in a broad ranging interview that touched on subjects as diverse as Britain's relationship with his country, Afghanistan and COVID-19.

On the UK's relationship with Russia, he said he was hopeful relations could improve soon - despite Russia's refusal to allow British police to interview spies who carried out a chemical attack on UK soil - and said that he believed both countries could even work towards a trade deal.

Mr Kelin said: "President Putin and Prime Minister Johnson spoke on the eve of Glasgow conference… for about 45 minutes… They fully agreed about one issue - that the relationship between the United Kingdom and the Russian Federation [is] not one that they want...

"I think that there was a good chance when UK has withdrawn from the European Union for the United Kingdom to establish [a] new and better relationship with Russia. It gives many new opportunities, also for businessmen as well. I'm talking to British businessmen and… they're telling me that for them, of course, it will be better to deal in business with Russia.

"We do believe that there are opportunities for mutually beneficial trade… and for better exchanges between us, and we are expecting that British government will come to this conclusion pretty soon."

He admitted, however, that the scrapping of a "joint commission on trade" was a stumbling block to progress on a potential trade deal.

Mr Kelin said Russia felt the NATO coalition's withdrawal from Afghanistan, meanwhile, was a mess.

He said: "[There was] A lot of damage produced and the withdrawal of the coalition… is another source of immigration. Immigration will be much bigger… At the moment it is more or less stable over there, but we fully understand that the country is on the verge of humanitarian crisis.

"We are not… happy about that at all. We are worried about some aspects… and we think about necessity of damage control over it.

"The damage, for us, is... possibilities for overspill of terrorism to the neighbouring countries in Central Asia. We still consider the Taliban is a terrorist organisation since very many years because it has done a lot, produced a lot of terrorists that has gone to Russia.

"The other aspect, of course, we are worried about issues of education, about human rights, about life of women over there and we are watching very closely what Taliban is doing."

The other concern he addressed was about the surging rate of COVID infection in his country, which was seeing more than 1,000 deaths a day, but he said it could not be compared to what was happening in the UK, despite praising the UK's vaccine roll out.

He told Murnaghan: "Our country and population is bigger than in the United Kingdom, so the figures should not be compared.

"I fully recognise that the death toll is higher than it should be. Vaccination should include more people. And by the way, I praise the system that in the United Kingdom is pushing people for vaccination by letters and by other means. We perhaps should do more in this area and the government is trying to do more."

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