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Russia to set 2020 carbon target that will let emissions rise

DOHA, Dec 5 (Reuters) - Russia plans to set itself a binding 2020 goal for carbon emissions, a top climate change official said on Wednesday - the only problem is it would allow them to rise.

Russia's emissions plunged after the collapse of Soviet-era smokestack industries to 2.21 billion tonnes in 2010, or 34 percent below 1990 levels, according to the latest data available from the nation's official statistics.

However, it is still the world's fourth biggest emitter of greenhouse gases behind China, the United States and India.

Alexander Bedritsky, Russia's special envoy for climate change and advisor to President Vladimir Putin, told a news
conference on the sidelines of climate talks in Qatar's capital Doha that Moscow had begun work on establishing a legally binding target.

The goal would be in the range of 15-25 percent below 1990 levels by 2020, he said. That would allow a rise from current levels.

He did not specify when it would be signed into law.

At Copenhagen climate talks in 2009, then Russian President Dmitry Medvedev outlined the idea of a similar goal. That proposal was not signed into Russian law, however.

Environmental campaigners dismissed the latest target plan. "I would say it is fantastically bad," said Vladimir Slivyak, co-chairman of Ecodefense, a Russian environmental group which focuses on energy issues.

Russia's emissions fell sharply after the fall of Communism. Under the U.N.'s Kyoto Protocol, its target was not to exceed its level of emissions in 1990 in the period 2008-12.

That target was far less stringent than the average 5.2 percent cut demanded of about 35 industrialised nations under the agreement.

Russia has said it will not sign up to a second U.N. commitment period on greenhouse gas reduction after the first phase of the Kyoto process expires at the end of this year.

By Barbara Lewis, Alister Doyle and Marton Kruppa in Doha and Melissa Akin in Moscow -  barbara.hm.lewis.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net))