Dramatic Turnaround: Putin – “climate the gravest challenge”

December 2, 2015


Body Language: Putin and Obama in Paris


President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia appears to have come around on the issue of climate change, noting it “has become one of the gravest challenges humanity is facing.” His remarks on Tuesday were a departure from Mr. Putin’s years of publicly mocking the issue, reports The Times’s Coral Davenport. Read her analysis of Russia’s efforts on climate change.

UPDATE: Coral Davenport expands the Times report:

LE BOURGET, France – Many observers were surprised on Monday when President Vladmir V. Putin of Russia – the head of a heavily polluting petrostate and a longtime skeptic of climate change – offered a platter of climate-friendly platitudes to his fellow world leaders.

“Climate change has become one of the gravest challenges humanity is facing,” he said. He went on, “Caused by global warming, hurricanes, droughts, floods and other anomalies are the source of economic damage.”

If the other leaders’ jaws did not drop, it was only because they were being polite. The remarks were a departure from Mr. Putin’s years of publicly mocking the issue. In 2003, for example, he noted that climate change could have the advantage of causing Russians to spend less on fur coats.

Were Mr. Putin’s statements merely further attempts to win a place back in the international fold, after he was marginalized because of Russia’s aggression in Crimea, eastern Ukraine and Syria? Or were his remarks a sincere attempt to be a team player as almost 200 countries try to reach a climate deal?

On Monday, he did more than acknowledge the problem. “Russia,“ he said, “has been contributing actively to addressing global warming. Our country is taking the lead.”

Is that so?

In fact, Russia is the fourth largest greenhouse gas polluter, and a global survey of 40 countries released this summer found that Russians had the lowest level of concern about global warming out of every country but one – Ukraine.

Observers have speculated that one possible reason for this is that the issue is barely addressed in the state-run news media in Russia.

While Mr. Putin stood before other world leaders in what appeared to be a show of solidarity with the overall goals of the talks — to lower carbon emissions and save the planet — numbers designed to demonstrate the depth of his environmental stewardship told another story.

Many of the figures were from Russia’s climate change plan submitted ahead of this summit meeting – it was one of the very first plans submitted, in April.

Reviewing the figures, he noted that under the Kyoto Protocol, adopted in 1997, Russia has reduced its levels of greenhouse gas emissions by 40 billion tons from 1990 levels – an amount nearly equivalent to the entire global output of greenhouse gases today. He pledged that over all, Russia will cut greenhouse gas levels by 70 percent from those levels by 2030.

That sounds very productive until you take a closer look at the numbers. While many countries pledge to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions using 2005 as a baseline year – the number used in the 2009 Copenhagen Accord – Putin pledges cuts from 1990, the number used as a baseline year in the Kyoto Protocol. That is when the Soviet Union’s emissions saw a steep spike, ahead of a plunge in industrial activity after the fall of the iron curtain.

By measuring from an outlier year, the results are skewed. And if you look at Russia’s numbers compared with their current level of emissions, they would actually lead to a roughly 40 percent increase over today’s levels by 2030.

So despite Mr. Putin’s remarkable change in tone, there appears to be little change in substance.



6 Responses to “Dramatic Turnaround: Putin – “climate the gravest challenge””

  1. peterangelo Says:

    playing up anything Putin does as a positive is laughable. he is a sociopath narcissist and therefore he fits in perfectly with the G20 can’t understand why they exclued him 😉

  2. florasforum Says:

    My dream: We applaud Putin for wanting to be a leader in fighting global warming – and his narcissistic ego decides to make the claims a reality.

  3. The genuine warmth of the greeting in the photo is priceless. Putins cheek implants give a hint of a manufactured grimace. What Putin says at home will no doubt be totally different! Talk of the use of a climate weapon against Russia and all that:-)
    Russia needs fossil fuel sales to balance it’s budget. About the only other product on offer is arms sales. Probably he’s secretly hoping Siberia will be the last frontier for food production as current food bowls dry up.
    The article reminds me of the promise fulled COP21 speech from New Zealands esteemed leader, who also only a few short years ago mentioned the words climate change and hoax in the same sentence.

  4. climatebob Says:

    In my view Europe, China and India should form a climate block and go alone to reduce the dependance on fossil fuels. Their governments are already committed to changing their energy source and as they make up half of the worlds population they could slowly squeeze out the big oil and coal exporting nations. I call these the CRUA nations as the big ones are Canada, Russia, USA and Australia. These countries have far too much of their economy devoted to fossil fuels and despite all their fine words at COP21 will not do anything once they get home. http://www.climateoutcome.kiwi.nz/latest-posts–news/un-climate-change-negotiations

  5. indy222 Says:

    Didn’t realize Putin was so…… short. ‘splains a lot I think.

    • dumboldguy Says:

      Yep, he does seem to suffer from Short Man Syndrome aka “Napoleon Complex. Being 6’1” myself, I had a number of contacts with SMS-NC sufferers during my professional career, all of them unpleasant. We DO need to worry about Putin because of his “shortness” of stature because it DOES impact his behaviors.

      An interesting article states “…in a recent line-up of G-20 leaders, Putin was found to be the third shortest, beating only Germany’s Angela Merkel and South Africa’s Jacob Zuma”.

      And “That’s why his bodyguards are always shorter then he is, to give the impression Putin is a tall person…”. Since Putin is no taller than 5’7″ and has been said to be as short as 5’2″, they must be recruiting his bodyguards from junior high schools (and giving them BIG guns to compensate).


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