Once the Smoke Clears

A ClimateWire piece published in the New York Times today speculates about the impact of Russia’s current natural disaster on the country’s future climate policies. Medvedev’s statements last week that Russia’s heatwave and uncontained wildfires are “evidence of this global climate change” and that “we need to change the way we work, and change the methods that we used in the past” were seen by some as evidence that Russia might become more serious about environmental protection in the future. But some experts predict that not much will change once the emergency situation is brought under control.

“I don’t know what it would take to produce an active stance on climate change in Russia, but I hope this is enough,” said Samuel Charap, a senior fellow for the Center for American Progress who studies Russian climate and energy policy.

Recent comments made by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev link climate change and the wildfires, stoking speculation about what Russia may bring to the table in the next round of international climate talks. But once the wildfires’ smoke clears, they may not amount to much, according to Alexey Kokorin, the Moscow-based climate negotiator for the World Wildlife Fund…

…[I]t will likely take more than the fires to spark a more aggressive emission reduction commitment from Russia, Kokorin said. “I don’t expect it will change their international climate talk stance this year because their negotiations are very pragmatic and economic-based,” he said. Russian officials have taken the stance in earlier climate talks that committing to curb larger amounts of emissions could hamper the country’s economic growth and that does not appear to be changing.