Environmental Encounters or Foreign Policy?
New Horizons in Environmental Politics series
Russia’s environment is of global importance, for many reasons. First, as the largest country on Earth, Russia remains a major contributor to regional and global environmental degradation. It is the fourth largest emitter of greenhouse gases in the world and a major supplier of fossil fuels – the main single source of greenhouse gases on a global scale. Transboundary air and water pollution originating from Russia gives rise to concern, especially in the neighbouring countries. The main reason for industrial pollution and the high energy intensity of the Russian economy lies in the deteriorating and inadequately maintained infrastructure built during the Soviet era. Air pollution is deemed high or extremely high in about half of the federal subjects (regions), according to the Russian Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (Ministerstvo 2010). The number of people living in such areas is about 54 million. Moreover, together with the legacy of Soviet economic planning and the authoritarian system of governance, the country’s economic and societal transition has obstructed the development of environmental policy and management (Henry and Douhovnikoff 2008, p. 437). This gives rise to fundamental questions about Russia’s ability to limit the negative impacts on the environment through domestic efforts alone.