As leaders around the world offer ever more ambitious pledges in the run-up to Cop 26 – the climate change summit to be held in Glasgow in November – there has been one discordant voice, and it comes, not surprisingly, from Russia. Moscow’s climate envoy, Ruslan Edelgeriyev, has described the near-universal rush to propose new curbs on greenhouse gas emissions as “an unreasonable race”, saying that countries should rather concentrate on meeting commitments already made.
In exchanges with Reuters news agency, on the eve of a US-hosted preparatory meeting last month, Edelgeriyev said there was a risk that unrealistic targets would remain on paper; Russia’s priority was deeds, not words. He reserved particular criticism for proposals from the European Union for a carbon levy on imports, which he said would unfairly benefit a small number of countries – and, which he did not say, penalise the mega-energy exporter, Russia.
So what’s new, you might ask. Hasn’t Russia always taken a somewhat obstructive approach to international initiatives that it associates with the west? And doesn’t the climate crisis come into that category? Well, yes and no. One reason why Edelgeriyev’s comments drew attention is that they represented something of a departure from Russia’s recent tone on greenhouse emissions and global warming. Indeed, over the past few years, the surprise has been less about how obstructive the Kremlin has been in the international drive to address the climate question, but how generally cooperative and compliant.
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