Global Soil Partnership

Carbon neutrality: challenges and opportunities

30 July, town of Novoivanovskoye, Odintsovo district, Moscow Oblast – Nemchinovka Federal Research Centre hosted a research-to-practice conference on “Carbon Neutrality: a New Trend in Global Economy” at its experimental site where testing and research activities took off as far back as a hundred years ago. PhosAgro Group and the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS) organized the event.


Producers of mineral fertilizers, agri-industry market players and leading figures from the scientific community discussed national and regional issues of low-carbon development in the Russian agriculture and related sectors in the context of the EU Green Deal.

Academician Aleksandr Sergeyev, President of RAS; Andrei Guryev, PhosAgro CEO and President of the Russian Fertilizer Producers Association; Yelena Zlenko, Deputy Chair of the Federation Council Committee on Agriculture and Food Policy and Environmental Management; Andrei Sulin, an EY Partner; Oleg Kobiakov, Director of FAO’s Moscow Office; heads of institutes and research centres of RAS and agribusiness experts participated in the conference.

Oleg Kobiakov stressed that there is no alternative to achieving low-emissions economy and carbon neutrality. “Russia’s concern over climate issues and its prominence due to its active engagement in implementing the UN climate agenda increased significantly after President V. Putin took part in the global climate summit in April this year. I should say that Russia, one of the five major greenhouse gas emitters, has an immense potential to neutralize the greenhouse effect”, noted Oleg Kobiakov.

What is the potential of Russia’s agricultural soils in carbon sequestration? “To resolve this task FAO launched a project on mapping the Global Soil Organic Carbon Sequestration potential (GSOCseq)”, said the Director of FAO’s Moscow Office. “The project is implemented by participating countries using standard methodology. They evaluate various carbon sequestration options according to four scenarios: one without interventions and the other three that apply carbon-saving practices.”

“The map will identify key areas with the largest potential soil carbon pools and will serve as a basis for decision-making at national and regional levels.”

As of today, the first version of the map has been developed that will be presented in autumn 2021. Several Russian scientific and academic institutions provided expertise for this work, among them Lomonosov Moscow State University; Institute of Geography, RAS; Southern Federal University; Rostov Administrative and Economic Centre; and the Analytical Centre of the Russian Ministry of Agriculture, emphasized the representative of FAO.

 “Today’s discussion has shown that Russian science is at the forefront of global climate efforts and carbon neutrality research, and businesses support science, as we have witnessed today – PhosAgro company, state authorities and government bodies are taking forward-looking decisions”, summarized the FAO Moscow Office Director.

“With the introduction of the Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism (CBAM) by the EU, the issue of emissions monitoring and sequestration is high on the agenda not only for our enterprises or companies, but also for whole regions”, noted Academician Aleksandr Sergeyev, President of RAS, in his opening remarks.“Where the interests of businesses, scientific community and local authorities coincide, unique alliances develop. Such an alliance has been formed in Vologda Oblast, where PhosAgro’s main production capacities are concentrated.”

Andrei Guryev, CEO of PhosAgro, said the pilot stage of the first-ever Russian carbon neutrality project will be finalized by 2025, and the full-fledged farm will become operational in 2028.

“There will be a new forest and field landscape right near the PhosAgro Cherepovets complex in Vologda Oblast, whose purpose is to sequester carbon. Its estimated capacity will amount to 0.7 million tons of CO2 per year. The research and methodological expertise of RAS will ensure the project's success. I am convinced that our joint work on carbon farms projects will contribute to efficient use of natural resources in our country and to successful search for new approaches to minimizing industrial impact on the environment”, said Andrei Guryev.

“Last year we adopted a comprehensive climate strategy, which includes a low-carbon transition plan with the greenhouse gas emissions reduction target of 14 percent by 2028 compared with the baseline of 2018. We are implementing an energy efficiency programme. PhosAgro consistently invests in equipment that generates power using waste heat from production. We are increasing the share of green hydraulic power and renewables in our energy consumption. Already this year they will cover more than 20 percent of the power needs of our mining and processing complex in the Khibiny Mountains beyond the polar circle. Carbon farm projects will become an integral part of our environmental strategy”, summed up Andrei Guryev.

Yelena Zlenko, Deputy Chair of the Federation Council Committee on Agriculture and Food Policy and Environmental Management, stressed that experiments on ecosystems’ sequestration potential are vital in light of Russia’s international commitments.

“The proactive stance of the scientific community and the private sector are key to the development of necessary practices. Today the forest industry encompasses all regions of the Russian Federation. We have a chance not only to preserve our forests, but also to launch a carbon offset market based on our forest industry. To do so, we need to ensure full and objective greenhouse gas emissions and offsets accounting, incentivize support for emissions reduction through enhanced energy efficiency of the industrial sector”, said Yelena Zlenko.

After the research-to-practice session the participants visited the experimental site at Nemchinovka, where they were shown Russian high-yield crop varieties.

Background: PhosAgro company, the co-organizer of the conference,  is the only Russian private sector entity to date that closely cooperates with FAO on a long-term basis and funds – with voluntary contributions – a number of FAO technical assistance projects on Sustainable Soil Management in developing countries.