Climate talks leaves Russia cold

Posted by World

As President Dmitry Medvedev prepares to join talks to save the planet in Copenhagen, only a minority of Russians will be worrying much about the outcome. Climate change and the environment are not big issues for most Russians - and most of the time the government seems equally unconcerned.

"Global warming, the Kyoto Protocol, cutting emissions, nuclear waste, incinerators - it might be a topic of discussion among Moscow's business elite, but the masses are nowhere near these issues. No-one's talking about them," said former Russian deputy Prime Minister Boris Nemtsov, an outspoken critic of the current Russian government.

There is one popular opinion, though that Russia is a cold country and warming it up slightly wouldn't do any harm.

Russia has pledged to ensure that greenhouse gas emissions in 2020 are at least 25% below 1990 levels. But since they are currently 34% below 1990 levels - thanks to an economic slump that coincided with the collapse of the Soviet Union - the economy can continue to grow for some time before it becomes necessary to go green.

A poll conducted this summer suggests that Russia is far less concerned about climate change than other European countries. Only 46% of 1,008 respondents in Russia said it was a very serious problem, and only 54% favored government investment to address climate change if it might hurt the economy - figures closer to those for the US or India than for Western Europe.


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