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How Putin Punts on the Environment

What does Russia's President Vladimir Putin have to say to about the environment?

December 4, 2003

What does Russia's President Vladimir Putin have to say to about the environment?

For quite some time, the fate of the Kyoto Protocol hinged on Russia’s willingness to ratify it. Now, the treaty appears to have been put off for good with Russia’s decision not to sign. In this Read My Lips feature, we trace the views of Russian President Vladimir Putin on the environment and climate change.

Is environmental protection in the interests of all nations?

“Partnership in this field serves our common interests, and is of real benefit to all countries — and indeed, without exaggeration, to all humanity.”

Does environmental regulation hinder economic development?

“While working out legal norms, we must take into account the interests of each state and not allow restrictions on economic and social development.”

What can Russia offer to the field of climatology?

“Our country has considerable intellectual potential in the field of climatology. The achievements of Russian scientists are recognized by the international community.”

How concerned is Russia with global warming?

“People in Russia often say — either in jest or in earnest — we are a northern country and a temperature 2 to 3 degrees warmer would not be scary, maybe it would be good. You would have to spend less money on fur coats and other warm things.”

What’s your own view on this?

“That may be so, but we must also think about the consequences of global climate change.”

Is it time for action now?

“A comprehensive scientific analysis, the conclusions of lawyers, economists and sociologists, broad public support are the necessary groundwork for creating a universal international legal base in the field of climate change.”

How far do you think specialists have advanced their research?

“Of course, it is very hard to measure in current time mode the result of the work of the specialists — in rubles, dollars and euros.”

How does specialists’ insight affect how nations cooperate?

“For us, for the people who organize the life of states or plan the economy, the knowledge with which the specialists can provide us is of the utmost importance.”

What determines Russia’s position on the Kyoto Protocol?

“There have been calls to Russia to ratify the Kyoto Protocol as soon as possible. The Government of the Russian Federation is closely studying and examining this question, which is part of a complex of difficult and unclear problems. A decision will be made when this work is finished. And, of course, in accordance with the national interests of the Russian Federation.”

This Read My Lips feature is based on President Vladimir Putin’s speech given at the World Climate Change Conference on September 29, 2003.