This is a guest post from IISS-US intern, Jonah Friedman
Russia’s president Dmitry Medvedev held a meeting last week to investigate ways in which his country can reduce its emissions by 25% by the year 2020. He drew attention to the Climate Doctrine of the Russian Federation, produced in December 2009, which noted the potentially negative results which climate change may have on Russia. A US National Intelligence Council report from April 2009 detailed several of the ways in which Russian lives will be negatively affected. These range from economic problems as a result of crop failures to deepening political and socioeconomic tensions.
Despite these and other reports, however, there are many in Russia who believe that climate change can only be to Russia’s benefit. They argue that warmer weather will both extend the growing season for crops as well as provide easier access to the country’s vast natural resources, which are often located in frozen tundra. Russia’s arctic flag-plating escapade in 2007 shows how eagerly some Russians are awaiting the melting of the polar ice caps.
It seems unlikely that President Medvedev’s reduction goals can be met unless these perspectives can be bridged. Russia is now the world’s third [or fourth (depending on how you count)] biggest polluter and its willingness to commit itself to reducing its emissions will have a major impact on the success of global efforts to combat climate change.