Russia’s expanding adaptation agenda and its limitations

Climate Policy, published online 09.08.2022, 15 p. DOI: 10.1080/14693062.2022.2107981  

Russian science has long warned of adverse climate impacts (also noting some positive effects), but state policies have been lacking. By analysing key policy documents over the last 15 years, this study identifies and explains the development of an adaptation policy. Most recently, a bureaucratic process set in motion by Russia’s ratification of the Paris Agreement produced a set of policy documents addressing adaptation to negative climate impacts. These documents employed a bureaucratic-administrative approach, and the effectiveness of expected measures can be questioned. From 2020, a deeper reassessment of climate challenges has evolved, triggered by radical climate changes observed in the Russian Arctic, but also by developments in international climate policies and the energy transition. Economic adaptation to these trends has come to the forefront, raising questions of the need for structural change in the Russian economy. Opposition to reform remains strong, but the scope for discussion of possible pathways has widened considerably. Further development of low-carbon policies in Russia are contingent on international cooperation and integration of Russia in the world economy. The isolation of Russia, following the invasion of Ukraine, will make it difficult to influence Russian climate policies.