Discounting the future of climate change in Russia

Research output: Contribution to journalComment/debate

Abstract

The future is not what it used to be. Giant methane ‘holes’, intense snowmelt floods, and more extreme weather events – these are just some of the future climate change impacts Roshydromet expects to see in Russia. At the same time, we keep hearing that climate change might actually be good for Russia. There is a view that it will benefit the country through a shorter winter season, better temperatures for growing food, and more accessible oil and gas in the Far North. There is a lot of uncertainty about what exactly will happen as the greenhouse gases from human activity push up the average global temperature. What we do know is that the risks are massive and need to be taken seriously. And it is misleading to think that the short-term benefits will last; Russians need to be aware of the longer-term damage that may come from not addressing this issue. Like it or not, global warming will change the country, and ignoring it only stores up problems for later. Russian history gives the current government plenty of lessons on the dangers of ignoring economic, social, and physical realities. The collapse of the Tsarist and Soviet regimes, which were unable to adapt to changing social and economic pressures from inside Russia and from globalisation, demonstrates this. Historical analogies only go so far, but we ignore their lessons at our peril. For this reason, climate change should be a high-priority in both Russia’s domestic and foreign affairs.

Bibliographical metadata

Original languageEnglish
JournalOpenDemocracy.net
StatePublished - 22 Jan 2015