FNI Climate Policy Perspectives 10, May 2013
Given the early stage of negotiations on a future global climate agreement, the Russian leadership is in a ‘stand-by mode’ which is unlikely to change until the approaches of the USA and China become clearer.
Much Russian climate policy is more ‘window dressing’ than real action. The leadership is keen to collect image points in international arenas by announcing policies, but little domestic action follows. Recognizing this pattern, other governments should call Moscow’s bluff, putting pressure on the Russian leadership to deliver real emissions cuts, instead mere PR. That could prepare Russia for meaningful participation in a future climate agreement.
The leadership has been ignoring the threats to Russian territory by climate change, focusing instead on the impacts of other countries’ mitigation policies on Russia’s oil and gas exports. Raising awareness of the expected economic and health impacts of climate change in Russia could contribute to alerting Moscow to implement genuine mitigation and adaptation measures. Moreover, Russia’s climate-sceptical lobby is still influential in decision-making.
A small climate coalition has emerged in Russia. Although its direct role remains marginal in decision-making, it has managed to shift climate policies upwards on the political agenda. However, Russia’s withdrawal from the second Kyoto commitment period poses a threat to the continuity of the activities of the climate coalition, which would benefit from cooperation with and support from foreign colleagues.