Russia’s ostrich approach to climate change and the Paris Agreement

CEPS Policy Insights, No 40/2017. 14 p.

Despite the latest information from Russia’s leading climate scientists, the country’s political leadership does not acknowledge the importance of anthropogenic factors in climate change. This is in stark contrast to most other governments, which recognise that there is no longer any doubt about the human origins of climate change.

Russia’s leadership has nevertheless acknowledged the negative nature of changes in 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.

In the view of Russia’s leadership, the global economic trend recognised by the Paris Agreement will generate risks for the national economy, but only in the distant future. This interpretation leads to a delay in 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 leadership relies on Russian prognoses that the global fossil-fuel era will continue for the foreseeable future, and ignores recent signals that would advocate phasing out coal and oil. Carbon regulation is already included as a policy tool to introduce new technologies, but is to be launched on an economy-wide scale only in the late 2020-30s. Russia’s main trading partners (China, Germany, Japan, Korea, India, and the Nordic countries) should communicate to Moscow, for example in bilateral meetings, BRICS, SCO and others, that climate change policies and regulations are being adopted by most countries, not least out of benign self-interest. In lagging behind now, Russia risks being unprepared for the post-fossil fuels era.



  • Research Professor
    +358 50 530 1665

    Show Email