Speed Reads


How the 'economics of global warming' are unfolding differently in Russia

The ever-present threat of climate change is a danger to all of us — but meanwhile, over in Russia, the "economics of global warming" are playing out differently, writes The New York Times.

Winter heating bills are on the decline, Russian fishermen have found "a modest pollock catch in thawed areas of the Arctic Ocean near Alaska," and, in Russia's Far North — where "rapidly rising temperatures have opened up a panoply of new possibilities" — potential mining and energy projects abound, the most "profound" prospect being year-round Arctic shipping as an alternative to the Suez Canal, writes the Times.

Multiple government-supported companies across the Russian Arctic, in fact, are midway through a plan to invest the equivalent of $10 billion over five years developing the Northeast Passage — a shipping lane between the Pacific and Atlantic — with the goal of securing some of the business that currently traverses the Suez. Traffic through the Russian Arctic rose by approximately 50 percent last year (though it still could not hold a candle to the Suez), per the Times. Arctic visitiation is expected to increase still next year.

And the "thawing ocean has also made oil, natural gas and mining ventures more profitable," the Times writes, and analysts estimate at least half a dozen large Russian energy, shipping, and mining companies will benefit from climate change.

The Russian government is not blind to the threat posed by global warming, but they seem to be enjoying things while they can, profiting where possible. Still, said Marisol Maddox, an Arctic analyst: "The evidence suggests the risks far outweigh the benefits, no matter how optimistic the Russian government's language."