A significant hurdle confronting negotiators trying to develop a strong climate agreement in Paris in December comes from Russian President Vladimir Putin, who has said “there is no global warming, that this is a fraud to restrain the industrial development of several countries including Russia,” as described by Stanislav Belkovsky, a Russian political analyst.
Russia’s pledged carbon dioxide reductions ahead of the Paris talks reflect Putin’s skepticism. They actually amount to an increase in emissions. Russia has said its emissions will be “70 to 75 percent” of 1990 levels by 2030 – which amounts to an increase in emissions from 2012 levels since Russian emissions are currently far below the levels produced in the Soviet era.
Putin’s skepticism dates from the early 2000s, when, according to Andrey Illarionov, Putin’s senior economic advisor at the time, his staff “did very, very extensive work trying to understand all sides of the climate debate. We found that, while climate change does exist, it is cyclical, and the anthropogenic role is very limited. It became clear that the climate is a complicated system and that, so far, the evidence presented for the need to ‘fight’ global warming was rather unfounded.”