THE VINE AUGUST 3, 2009
Last week, I noted a story in the Abu Dhabi National about how many Russians appear to be remarkably nonchalant, or even sanguine, about the potential impacts of global warming on their country. There were even quotes to this effect from high-ranking officials in Moscow, including Vladimir Putin, who, back in 2003, was daydreaming of a time when Russians could shed their fur coats. It didn't exactly bode well for global climate talks. But on Grist today, Jonathan Hiskes interviews Sergei Kislyak, the Russian ambassador to the United States, and Kislyak disavows this pro-warming position in fairly strong terms:
“Climate change brings not only the warming of Siberia, it brings many problems that we’ll have to cope with,” Kislyak said. “They will outweigh the benefits, the perceived benefits. We have developed a lot of technologies to make even the most remote places in Siberia accessible. It’s not the biggest problem.” ...
“We want all the countries that contribute to climate change to be on board in cutting emissions,” Kislyak said. “That is kind of our guiding principle. Certainly the negotiations are going to be difficult. But I would say that, more or less, our positions are closer and closer with the United States.”
Well, fair enough. But maybe he should tell Putin! Anyway, Russia is still pushing a plan to increase its greenhouse-gas emissions 30 percent by 2020, but Kislyak's response suggests that the country's not totally content to gamble with the global thermostat just yet. Anyway, as Ryan Avent pointed out, it's not even clear that a hotter planet would be a boon to Russia. Sure, Siberia could thaw and a few extra drilling opportunities could present themselves, but what happens if, say, a stampede of climate refugees start marching in from the south?