When it comes to climate change and the need to update and renew in the face of changing weather patterns, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s strategy is simple: deny, deny, deny. While other economies dependent on fossil fuels melee to diversify or competition for the construction of clean energy infrastructure in an effort to put itself at the forefront of the next renewable revolution, Russia has taken the opposite stance: the world’s largest nation is sitting idly by and expects to be the last man standing in a fossil fuel shrinking market .
While Russia, with its massive land surface and enviable geopolitical positioning, is extremely resource-rich, its oil is more costly to extract than other oil superpowers. However, Putin is trying to outdo everyone as they are forced to move away from oil due to falling prices and political pressure. The world is still decades away from disconnecting itself from fossil fuels and will potentially have even more money to make as competition begins to wane. The calculation that Russia has to make is when its oil industry will move from being a profit driver to a burden as demand flattens and then falls.
While the potential for profit is undeniable in oil markets, when it comes to clean energy transition, Russia is being left behind. They are being left behind in terms of infrastructure, innovation and a dogmatic connection to business as usual. “Putin and other Russian leaders have periodically flirted with the complete denial of climate change,” Bloomberg reports. “Scientists have estimated that permanent thawing could cost Russia $ 84 billion in infrastructure damage by the middle of the century as it emits large amounts of greenhouse gases. Carbon Action Tracker, a nonprofit, gives Russia ‘s climate policy a low score of “quite insufficient.”
While Russia will soon feel the pain from the side effects of climate change, there will also be a silver lining for all that melting northern ice for the world’s largest country. Retreating glaciers will reveal a real treasure oil, gas and minerals never before accessible – not to mention an extremely valuable set of new sea lanes to facilitate entry into trade. Exchanges for this new natural capital, however, are as costly in terms of destructive ecological externalities as almost all the largest banks in the world will not touch it.
Russia, meanwhile, has doubled in natural gas. “In recent years, the Kremlin has been betting on the country’s economic and geopolitical future in natural gas,” reports Bloomberg, “building new pipelines in China, Turkey and Germany, while aiming to capture a quarter of the global LNG market.” , from zero in 2008 and about 8% today. ”Within the vast expanses of Russia, where entire regions depend on fossil fuels for their entire economy, the prevailing belief is that natural gas is the future and will always be “What is the alternative? Russia can not be an exporter of clean energy, that path is not open to us,” said Konstantin Simonov, director of Moscow consultancy National Security Fund of Energy for Bloomberg. “We can’t just switch fossil fuel production to clean energy because we don’t have any technology of our own.”
While renewable energy is still an emerging sector, with many potential opportunities for Russia to insert its claims into the global clean energy game, it is clear that the Kremlin has a long way to go in terms of ideological politicization that make it possible.
By Haley Zaremba for Oilprice.com
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