HSE Creates Institute of Ecology
The new institute will be engaged in research and educational activities and will provide expert and analytical support for state projects in the field of environmental safety, as well as for projects outlined by Russia's federal policy in the Arctic.
The HSE has already accumulated considerable scientific and expert experience in the field of environmental research. For example, the Center for Analysis of Executive Authorities was responsible for hosting meetings of the State Council on Ecology. In addition, HSE experts drafted a bill on environmental information and conducted studies relating to the management of chemicals and waste, as well as research into other scientific and applied problems. ‘Each project was carried out by experts from different departments of the HSE, meaning that we have not had a single research unit - until now,’ explains the vice-rector of the Higher School of Economics, Andrey Zhulin. ‘The Institute of Ecology will be the center that unites our forces.’
Andrey Zhulin also highlighted the government's increased interest in environmental issues and the May decree of the President of the Russian Federation. The decree identified environmental safety as a national goal for Russia's development until 2024.
‘The Institute of Ecology will assist the authorities, scientific centers and other units of the HSE in implementing this task,’ said the HSE vice-rector. The institute will also provide scientific and analytical support of strategic priorities, as determined by Russia's state policy in the Arctic.
The Institute of Ecology will be headed by Boris Morgunov, who previously worked at the Ministry of Economic Development and the State Committee for the North on issues such as environmental management and development of the northern territories. The new institute will also engage experts in the fields of economics, geography, biology, medicine who have extensive experience in the management and implementation of major international environmental projects. Such projects have been carried out in collaboration with the World Bank, the EBRD, OECD, the United Nations Global Environment Facility, and the international Arctic Council and have involved scientists from Russia, Norway, Germany, and the United States.
In addition to providing expert support for government decisions and carrying out research aimed at improving environmental safety, the institute will also be involved in educational projects.
‘We intend to include students and postgraduates at HSE in research and will apply the results of the institute's research in developing postgraduate, Master’s and Bachelor’s programmes. We will promote practical applications of our research in every possible way,’ Boris Morgunov stated.
The official opening of the Institute of Ecology of the Higher School of Economics is scheduled to take place on August 1, 2018.
Global warming has caused the total area of more than 600 Greater Caucasus glaciers to drop by approximately 16%, according to an international research team that includes Stanislav Kutuzov, geographer from HSE University. Glaciers without rock debris coverage have decreased more than those with debris coverage.
Having studied the impact of warming on countries in Central and Eastern Europe, Caucasus and Central Asia, Georgy Safonov, Director of the HSE Centre for Environmental and Natural Resource Economics, warns that responding to climate change does not seem to be a top priority for the region's governments, while potential threats are assessed only in economic terms and almost never as a social challenge.
More than 40% of Russian citizens consider changing their place of residence due to environmental problems. This was a statistic cited by Lyaila Sinyatullina, Head of the Department of Advanced Studies at HSE University’s Institute for Public Administration and Governance, at a roundtable dedicated to an environmental information bill that will be reviewed by the Russian State Duma.
It is believed that carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere are mainly regulated by ‘direct’ economic instruments - the carbon tax and the Emissions Trading System (ETS). However, a comparative analysis has shown that ‘indirect’ instruments, such as excise taxes on motor fuel and other energy taxes, did not yield any lesser impact than their ‘direct’ counterparts, and, over time, were even more effective.
It is believed that carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere are mainly regulated by ‘direct’ economic instruments - the carbon tax and the Emissions Trading System (ETS). However, a comparative analysis has shown that ‘indirect’ instruments, such as excise taxes on motor fuel and other energy taxes, did not yield any lesser impact than their ‘direct’ counterparts, and, over time, were even more effective. This is the conclusion drawn by HSE researcher Ilya Stepanov in his article, ‘Taxes in the Energy Sector and Their Role in Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions’.
On June 3, a meeting with Chris Thaller, Head of Creative Projects at Runtastic by adidas and founder of the Parley Foundation, who is involved in a project to gather and recycle oceanic plastic, will take place at HSE University.
The environmental student organization Green HSE has launched a service for the separate collection of plastic waste. Special yellow containers can be found across HSE buildings. For now only plastic bottles can be collected for recycling.