Russia’s pivotal role in catalysing a low-carbon epoch

Aug 2013 Climate Change Regional Review: Russia – Wiley Interdisciplinary Review – Climate Change 

With emissions firmly on an upward trajectory, Russia is already one of the five highest emitting nations. It is a leading global supplier of fossil fuels and occupies more than a tenth of the global land area, of which nearly two thirds are underlain by methane-rich permafrost.

This paper argues that such a unique confluence of circumstances gives Russia a pivotal role in determining the success or otherwise of international climate change mitigation and hence the direction of future climate impacts. It can choose to acquiesce to short-term political and financial considerations, adopt weak mitigation measures, and face potentially devastating impacts. Or it can apply its considerable attributes and powers to help catalyse an epoch of national and global action to secure a low-carbon and climate-resilient future. The former will see Russia subsumed into the international malaise on climate change, whilst the latter may both quench the nation’s ‘thirst for greatness’ and fill the void in climate leadership.