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.