With COP26 and high fossil fuel prices, energy is back in the headlines. And Russia, as one of the world’s largest producers of hydrocarbons, is part of the conversation—most recently, in Putin’s refusal to expand oil production to ease global prices.
The world is coming up on three major transitions—peak use of fossil fuels, renewables competing with non-renewables, and a warming climate likely to surpass the 1.5 degree threshold set by the IPCC. What do those trends mean for Russia: a great power, a major oil and gas producer, an Arctic country covered in permafrost, and an economy with strong, but increasingly outdated, levels of technological development.
Thane Gustafson’s Klimat: Russia in the Age of Climate Change examines how Russia might react—or be forced to react—to a changing environment and energy market. We’re joined in this interview by Yvonne Lau, Asia Markets Reporter for Fortune Magazine, with a longtime interest in Russia, especially its post-Soviet economic development and its growing ties with China. In this interview, Thane, Yvonne and I talk about how Russia will have to change as the world warms. As the world shifts to renewables, will Russia be able to keep up? As Arctic ice melts, will Russia see shipping opportunities? And will climate change get greater salience among the Russian public?
Thane Gustafson is 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 (Harvard University Press, 2020) and Wheel of Fortune: The Battle for Oil and Power in Russia (Harvard University Press, 2017), as well as Russia 2010: And What It Means for the World (Vintage, 1995), coauthored with Daniel Yergin.
Yvonne Lau can be followed at @yvonneylau.