Medvedev calls for environmental clean up (Lead)

June 3rd, 2008 - 10:34 pm ICT by IANS  

Moscow, June 3 (DPA) Russia’s new president Dmitry Medvedev called Tuesday for higher standards of environmental protection and for the state to finance renewable energy projects, in a rare comment on ecological concerns in Russia’s rapid-growth economy. “If we think only of the energy wasted in our heating networks, our country is first in the world: It is a bad record,” Medvedev was quoted by news agency Interfax as saying at a Kremlin meeting.

The comments endorse Medvedev’s stamp as more liberal-minded than his mentor and predecessor Vladimir Putin, and fostered hopes among green campaigners that the statements mark a change in Russia’s poor record of environmental policy.

“With respect to energy efficiency, the majority of manufacturers lag behind modern times,” Medvedev said Tuesday, adding the state “must act fast” to enact regulatory legislation.

Medvedev called for financing for renewable energy projects to be included in budget as early as next year.

“We should stimulate environmentally safe technologies through many different means,” he said, citing one tactic as support for small and medium businesses for whom the current regulatory checks are “impractical.”

After decades of Soviet neglect, Russia has more than its share of environmental degradation which the latest period of booming economic growth has done little to improve.

Medvedev said one million of Russians live in environments that have “dangerous levels of pollution,” while experts say two-thirds of Russia’s 142 million citizens have access to drinking water that is below international standards for pollution levels.

Russian new agency RIA Novosti added: President Dmitry Medvedev said Tuesday the draft of a proposed bill on permissible level of industrial emissions would be tabled in the lower house of parliament in October.

“The draft is being prepared, and I hope by Oct 1 it will be submitted to the State Duma,” Medvedev told a Kremlin meeting.

“We need to draft a complete system on acceptable levels of environmental impact,” he said.

Medvedev said the Russian Security Council held a meeting in January focussed on environmental issues, which discussed the impact of environmental standards on the country’s innovative development.

He said “in essence” the impact is “on our level of competitiveness”.

The president said the piece of legislation on greenhouse gases would come in the run-up to Group of Eight summit in line with Russia’s international commitment.

The 34th summit of the Group of Eight industrialized nations, namely Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, Britain and the US, is to be held in Japan July 7-9.

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