The United States–from politicians to plebes, and all in between–are transfixed with India and China’s refusals to get on board with our plans to cut back on carbon emissions.
For sure, each nation is important, but we should all be focusing a similar amount of attention on Russia, writes Tom Zeller at the New York Times.
Without Russia, a global climate pact is probably impossible. And sadly for cap and trade fans, there is no reason for Russia to sign up, based strictly on economic terms.
Russia is the number two exporter of oil, and the number one exporter of natural gas. The amount of energy it uses per GDP is double the U.S., and the country is on course to emit more CO2 per person than the U.S. in the next 20 years.
Aside from the potential economic damage that’s comes with cutting emissions, there’s a bigger reason to doubt Russian commitment to climate change, says Brad Plummer.
The country wants global warming because it is cold in Russia.
The National via TNR: It might seem impolitic to embrace what many regard as a looming global catastrophe. But this has not stopped the Russians. In September 2003, none other than Vladimir Putin signalled his approval, noting that global warming would help Russians “save on fur coats and other warm things”. More recently, Rinat Gizatullin, a spokesman for the Natural Resources Ministry, told the BBC: “We are not panicking. Global warming is not as catastrophic for us as it might be for some other countries. If anything, we’ll be even better off. As the climate warms, more of Russia’s territory will be freed up for agriculture and industry.”
Earlier this year, Alexander Bedritsky, head of Russia’s state weather centre, issued a public statement noting that “the heating season will be reduced, and this is a positive factor for us as it will allow us to economise on fuel”. The weather centre estimated that Russians could save as much as 10 per cent on heating bills by 2050. Vladimir Zhirinovsky, the ultranationalist Duma deputy who is widely believed to be close to the Kremlin and who speaks for millions of like-minded Russians, has publicly pined for the day when global warming takes its toll on the West, gloating that London will be submerged by the Thames and “Britain will have to give freedom to Scotland and Wales and Northern Ireland”. …
Enthusiasm for global warming in Russia, if that’s the right way to put it, goes beyond simple household concerns or national economic interests. For the Russians, who regard the Arctic as essentially their rightful territory, shrinking ice floes will ease access to the bounty of natural resources around the polar ice cap, including large reserves of oil, gas, gold, diamonds, nickel and tungsten.
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