A discerning analysis of the future effects of climate change on Russia, the major power most dependent on the fossil fuel economy.
Russia will be one of the countries most affected by climate change. No major power is more economically dependent on the export of hydrocarbons; at the same time, two-thirds of Russia's territory lies in the arctic north, where melting permafrost is already imposing growing damage. Climate change also brings drought and floods to Russia's south, threatening the country's agricultural exports.
Thane Gustafson predicts that, over the next thirty years, climate change will leave a dramatic imprint on Russia. The decline of fossil fuel use is already underway, and restrictions on hydrocarbons will only tighten, cutting fuel prices and slashing Russia's export revenues. Yet Russia has no substitutes for oil and gas revenues. The country is unprepared for the worldwide transition to renewable energy, as Russian leaders continue to invest the national wealth in oil and gas while dismissing the promise of post-carbon technologies. Nor has the state made efforts to offset the direct damage that climate change will do inside the country. Optimists point to new opportunities – higher temperatures could increase agricultural yields, the melting of arctic ice may open year-round shipping lanes in the far north, and Russia could become a global nuclear-energy supplier. But the eventual post-Putin generation of Russian leaders will nonetheless face enormous handicaps, as their country finds itself weaker than at any time in the preceding century.
Lucid and thought-provoking, Klimat shows how climate change is poised to alter the global order, potentially toppling even great powers from their perches.
A Note on Transliteration
Introduction: Climate Change and Its Implications for Russia
1. The Politics of Climate Change in Russia
2. The Twilight of Russian Oil?
3. Can Natural Gas Replace Oil?
4. Russia’s Coal Dilemma
5. Renewables: A Slow Start
6. The Revival of Russian Nuclear Power
7. Russia’s Agricultural Renaissance
8. A Tale of Two Arctics
Conclusion: The Reckoning Ahead
Thane Gustafson is a Professor of Government at Georgetown University. A widely-recognized authority on Russian political economy and formerly a professor at Harvard University, he is the author of many books, notably The Bridge: Natural Gas in a Redivided Europe and Wheel of Fortune: The Battle for Oil and Power in Russia, as well as Russia 2010: And What It Means for the World (co-authored with Daniel Yergin).
"A lucid guide to the state of Russian energy production in the present, offering an invaluable tour through the country's economy, sector by sector, as it relates to climate change, while providing a clear-eyed prognosis for the thirty years to come, from the likely fates of metal mining and nuclear power to that of a thawing Arctic [...] If mining dirty coal in Shakhtyorsky was subsidized by the Soviet state, mining any coal in the twenty-first century is subsidized by future climate-driven crises. Thane Gustafson helps us think through the consequences."
– Bathsheba Demuth, Times Literary Supplement
"Thane Gustafson has published two seminal works on Russia's oil and gas industry in the past decade. His latest, Klimat, addresses its byproduct, climate change [...] Extreme weather events, including severe droughts and wildfires, are now much more frequent than when Putin ascended to power. Yet Russia's economy, and Putin's own power, are tied overwhelmingly to the prodigious production and export of fossil fuels."
– Liam Denning, Bloomberg
"A thoughtful book on Russian energy."
– The Economist
"In his lively, informative, and extremely timely analysis of climate change and its effects on Russia, [Gustafson] stresses repeatedly that while being one of the main culprits responsible for global climate change, the country is also destined to eventually become one of its main victims."
– Vitali Vitaliev, E&T
"Thoroughly researched [...] It speculates on what might become of Russia's finances as demand for its all-important energy exports falls."
– William Powell, Natural Gas World
"This is not an optimistic book [...] Russia is between a rock and a hard place, like much of the rest of the world perhaps, but Russia has less policy scope than the US, say, to cope and mitigate the environmental and economic effects of climate change."
– Peter Gordon, Asian Review of Books
"A sobering assessment of the impact of climate change on Russia's standing as a great power from one of the most acute observers of environmental and energy issues. Highly recommended."
– Francis Fukuyama, author of Identity: The Demand for Dignity and the Politics of Resentment
"Facing increasing global pressure, Russian decision makers are being forced to think about the new reality of decarbonization. This book provides excellent insights into the story behind a resource-rich but climate-damaging economy, and explores a key question for the future: What alternative exports can Russia offer?"
– Tatiana Mitrova, Research Director of the Energy Center, Moscow School of Management SKOLKOVO
"The first full-length exploration of Russia as both a prime source and a victim of climate change. Anyone interested in environmental issues or in Russia's future should read this data-rich and gracefully written book."
– Timothy J. Colton, author of Yeltsin: A Life