30 Nov 2017

Russia’s Ostrich Approach to Climate Change and the Paris Agreement

Alexey Kokorin / Anna Korppoo

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Russia’s climate mitigation is lagging far behind the pace of global efforts, due to the leadership’s ‘ostrich approach’ to phasing out fossil fuels and its denial of the human origins of climate change.

This is despite the latest information from Russia’s leading climate scientists, argue the authors, and in stark contrast to most other governments, which recognise that there is no longer any doubt about the anthropogenic origins of climate change.

Russia’s leadership has nevertheless acknowledged the negative nature of change to the climate and noted the growing risks to Russian territory. It also emphasises the need for adaptation, in contrast to its previous tendency to dismiss such risks, but sees the global economic trend recognised by the Paris Agreement as generating economic risks only for the distant future.

This interpretation leads to a delay in Russia adopting robust measures for low-carbon development, and explains the focus on short-term energy efficiency measures. Russia’s GHG emissions target mainly reflects a business-as-usual approach to the development of energy efficiency.

The authors call upon Russia’s main trading partners: China, Germany, Japan, Korea, India, and the Nordic countries, to make it clear that today there is no doubt about the anthropogenic origins of climate change. This recognition has become especially important in view of the Trump administration’s climate scepticism. Climate change policies and regulations are now being adopted by most countries, not least out of benign self-interest. In lagging behind now, Russia risks being unprepared for the post-fossil fuel era.

Dr Alexey Kokorin is Director of the Climate and Energy Programme of WWF Russia and Dr Anna Korppoo works as a Research Professor at the Fridtjof Nansen Institute in Norway.

No. of pages: 14