Climate Change, the Arctic, and the Environment During the Third Joint MGIMO-Fletcher Conference

Climate and environmental issues do not become the subject of discussion in the U.S.-Russia relations often. This year, the Department of International Integrated Environmental Management and Ecology at MGIMO University assisted in the preparation of graduate students in the environmental part of the program and also organized a session dedicated to climate involving experts. During the conference, representatives from MGIMO University and The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy exchanged views not only on the current state of affairs but also tried to identify common ground and prospects for cooperation.

On March 19, a meeting dedicated to climate and Arctic issues in the bilateral relations was held. It was attended by MGIMO Director of International Energy Policy and Diplomacy Institute Professor Valery Salygin and Deputy  Director Igbal Guliyev, Lecturer of the Department of Natural Resources and Ecology Studies at MGIMO University Ekaterina Bliznetskaya, Professor of Practice at The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy Barbara Kates-Garnick and Co-Director of the Arctic Initiative at Harvard Kennedy School Halla Hrund Logadóttir. The participants of the meeting discussed climate issues in scientific and public discourse in Russia and the United States, the motives for the transition to renewable energy sources, the environmental development of energy projects in the Arctic, and the future of the energy development in the context of the global low carbon trend.

On March 20, the topic of climate cooperation between the two countries was touched upon at the third session of the conference. Experts and graduate students of the two universities participated in the discussion. The Russian view of the problem was presented by Director of the Yu.A. Izrael Institute of Global Climate and Ecology Anna Romanovskaya, Director of the Environmental Investment Center Mikhail Yulkin, and Lecturer of the Department of Natural Resources and Ecology Studies at MGIMO University Ekaterina Bliznetskaya. On the American side, Professor of Practice at The Fletcher School Barbara Kates-Garnick provided her expertise.

The expert part of the discussion was devoted to a review of the interaction between the United States and Russia in the framework of the UN conferences on climate change, which, as noted by Anna Romanovskaya, has remained constructive and not subject to political influences for many years. The issue of the driving forces of the climate agenda at the present stage, the role of business, science and civil society, as well as the problem of reducing revenues from the export of hydrocarbons were raised. Mikhail Yulkin, in particular, said that he was pushing Russian companies to deal with the issues of reducing greenhouse gas emissions even in the absence of government regulation.

During the Q&A session, students were interested in expert opinion on the problems of interaction between the countries in the field of adaptation to climate change, the prospects for implementation of national contributions by Russia and the United States committed to within the Paris Agreement, monitoring and reporting of companies, investor motivation, and financial risk assessment, prospects of geo-engineering projects and research conducted in Russia, possible ways of cooperation between countries in the field of waste management, etc.

The session showed that in terms of combating climate change, Russia and the United States, both at the state and private sector levels, have many areas for cooperation that need to be further discussed and implemented. The session allowed the experts to exchange views, and the students participating in the program received a lot of new information, which, as they noted, would be a good help in preparing the final documents.

This piece was translated and republished from MGIMO website. 

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