The Chinese Century, the Russian World and the Climate Catastrophe
In his new book „To Govern the Globe- Washington’s World Order and Catastrophic Climate Change“ Alfred McCoy claims that the Chinese century hoped for by the Chinese Communist Party, if it starts in 2030, will be over by 2050 due to the climate catastrophe and that the northern plain of China with its agricultural areas and 400 million inhabitants would become uninhabitable due to drought and heat and mass exodus would occur. That is why he calls for a new world order in his book:
“Weighing Beijing’s global future, it seems safe to assume that, minimally, China will gain enough strength to weaken Washington’s global grip and is likely to become the preeminent world power around 2030. Count on one thing, though: the accelerating pace of climate change will almost certainly curtail China’s hegemony within two or three decades.
As early as 2017, scientists at the nonprofit Climate Central reported that, by 2060 or 2070, rising seas and storm surges could flood areas inhabited by 275 million people worldwide and, suggests corroborating research, Shanghai is “the most vulnerable major city in the world to serious flooding.” According to that group’s scientists, 17.5 million people are likely to be displaced there as most of the city “could eventually be submerged in water, including much of the downtown area.”
Advancing the date of this disaster by at least a decade, a report in the journal Nature Communications found that 150 million people worldwide are now living on land that will be below the high-tide line by 2050 and that rising waters will “threaten to consume the heart” of Shanghai by then, crippling one of China’s main economic engines. Dredged from sea and swamp in the fifteenth century, much of that city is likely to return to the waters from whence it came, possibly as early as three decades from now.
Meanwhile, increasing temperatures are expected to devastate the North China Plain, a prime agricultural region between Beijing and Shanghai currently inhabited by 400 million people. “This spot is going to be the hottest spot for deadly heat waves in the future,” according to Professor Elfatih Eltahir, a specialist on hydrology and climate at MIT. Between 2070 and 2100, he estimates, the region could face hundreds of periods of “extreme danger” when a combination of heat and humidity will reach a “wet bulb temperature” (WBT) of 31° Celsius, and perhaps five lethal periods of 35° WBT — where a combination of heat and high humidity prevents the evaporation of the very sweat that cools the human body. After just six hours living in such a wet bulb temperature of 35° Celsius, a healthy person at rest will die.
If the “Chinese century” does indeed start around 2030, barring remarkable advances in the reduction of the use of fossil fuels on this planet, it’s likely to end sometime around 2050 when its main financial center is flooded out and its agricultural heartland begins to swelter in insufferable heat.
A New World Order?
Given that Washington’s world system and Beijing’s emerging alternative show every sign of failing to limit carbon emissions in significant enough ways, by mid-century the international community will likely need a new form of global governance to contain the damage.
After 2050, the world community will quite possibly face a growing contradiction, even a head-on collision, between the foundational principles of the current global order: national sovereignty and human rights. As long as nations have the sovereign right to seal their borders, the world will have no way of protecting the human rights of the hundreds of millions of future climate-change refugees.
By then, facing a spectacle of mass global suffering now almost unimaginable, the community of nations might well agree on the need for a new form of global governance. Such a supranational body or bodies would need sovereign authority over three critical areas — emissions controls, refugee resettlement, and environmental reconstruction.”
While the EU is now complaining about what is allegedly the worst drought in 500 years, and extreme weather conditions are also increasing in India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Africa and the USA, McCoy’s prognosis for China also appears to be correct, although this does not only apply to the China’s northern plain:
“People seek shelter in bunkers: China has a firm grip on the worst heat wave in decades
Dried up rivers and sweating pandas: A wave of heat and drought has been plaguing China for weeks. The economy suffers as a result.
Munich/Chengdu – There is a lot of talk about solidarity in Germany these days. Before the heaters stay cold in winter and the industry can no longer produce because there is no gas from Russia, citizens should start saving now. Take shorter showers, wait for the heaters, ventilate properly. But it remains to be seen whether those who can afford to heat with the windows open will also stick to it. In China, people are already further along: In the People’s Republic, people are showing solidarity in the face of an unprecedented heat wave and dramatic energy shortages, and the whole country is participating. At least that is the picture that the state media and the strictly controlled social media have been conveying for days. “Saving electricity and water is what we need to do now. We must be united to overcome the difficulties,” writes a user on Weibo, to the applause of more than 40,000 people. A video is also currently making the rounds on the social network, showing a woman named Li pulling a package of food with a long rope to the 25th floor of her apartment building. Just before she placed the order, the woman from Sichuan province said the electricity was cut off. Ms. Li came up with the idea of using the rope so that the delivery boy doesn’t have to climb hundreds of steps at the current daily temperature of around 40 degrees.
Heat wave in China is also affecting the economy
Sichuan is in western China, on the border with Tibet. The province produces more than 80 percent of its electricity with hydropower, part of which is usually exported to other parts of the country. For a few weeks now, however, the province has been hit by a drought and heatwave the likes of which have not been seen in decades. Rivers that were once mighty have dwindled to rivulets, making it difficult to produce electricity there. According to analysis by investment bank Morgan Stanley, daily electricity generation from hydropower has fallen by 51 percent. At the same time, private demand is increasing, as many people can hardly stand it without air conditioning in their homes or offices due to the high temperatures.
In the past few days, the electricity had to be switched off again and again – which not only affects private households, but also the many companies based in the province. This also includes global corporations such as Apple’s contract manufacturer Foxconn, Bosch and Toyota. E-cars and photovoltaic systems in particular are manufactured in Sichuan, and raw materials such as lithium and polysilicon are also mined there. All of these industries suffer from supply chain disruptions. Even in distant Shanghai – around 1,700 kilometers from Sichuan’s capital Chengdu – the effects of the energy crisis in the western part of the country can be felt. The lights were ouz on the Bund, Shanghai’s world-famous waterfront, on Monday and Tuesday. Because the 24-million metropolis gets part of its electricity from hydroelectric power plants in the border area between Sichuan and Yunnan and from the Three Gorges Dam on the Yangtze, on the banks of which less rain was measured in July than in 60 years.
Heat wave in China: Even the pandas are sweating
It’s getting too hot even for the pandas that live in large protected areas near the capital Chengdu: China’s state news agency Xinhua published pictures showing how giant panda Qing Qing cooled off on a huge block of ice. But not only Sichuan suffers from the extreme heat. In central China’s Henan province, a woman recently reported that the live shrimp she bought at the market and carried home in a plastic bag filled with water was boiled by the heat on the way home. In Guangzhou, in the far south of the country, a man shared a photo of the soles of his shoes having melted on the scorching hot asphalt. Large parts of the country are currently experiencing the worst heat wave since records began in 1961, and there is also exceptional drought. A total of 14 Chinese provinces and regions are currently affected by „moderate to severe“ drought, according to official figures. In the east coast metropolis of Nanjing and in the city of Nanchang in the central province of Jiangxi, there was still no rain for the whole of August.
The drought is already affecting the food supply.
Northeast of Nanchang is Lake Poyang, China’s largest freshwater lake. Recently, however, the poyang has shrunk to just a quarter of its normal size. In the middle of the dried-up waters, an actually sunken island with a historic lighthouse reappeared. Irrigation canals that supply water to rice fields in the area remained dry – which is why the government had new ditches dug to irrigate at least part of the fields. This is urgently needed, because China has seven percent of the world’s usable agricultural land, but has to supply 22 percent of the world’s population with it. It’s a dilemma that could get worse as the country is forecast to face increasingly severe and prolonged heat and drought periods in the future.
China is suffering from climate change – and is fueling it itself
Everywhere in China attempts are now being made to reduce energy consumption. In the Yangtze metropolis of Chongqing, east of Chengdu, several shopping centers only opened in the late afternoon – and only for a few hours, to save energy. Since July, temperatures of over 35 degrees have been measured in the city on more than 30 days. Dozens of subway stations have therefore been converted into shelters. Some residents of the city even fled to bunkers from World War II to cool down, as Xinhua reported. There have also been several forest fires in the area. Because many hydroelectric power plants across the country are no longer operating at full capacity, the government is forced to burn more coal. China is currently responsible for around 30 percent of global CO₂ emissions – and thus at first glance a climate sinner who is now feeling the effects of man-made climate change.
In fact, however, the per capita emissions in China are only about half as high as in the USA – and at about the same level as in Germany. In addition, many emissions result from the production of goods that are not consumed in China but abroad. In addition, emissions in China were at a very low level for decades and only rose sharply from around the year 2000 onwards. Nevertheless, China is now faced with the urgent question of how to reduce greenhouse gas emissions without slowing down economic growth. State and party leader Xi Jinping announced two years ago that the country actually wants to be CO₂ neutral by 2060. Even if the EU and USA want to get there ten years earlier, it is an ambitious goal. This year, the additional coal burned should not increase CO₂ emissions because less is being produced at the same time – due to the current power outages, but also because of the many corona lockdowns across the country. But China’s emissions are not expected to actually decrease until 2030. It is already evident almost everywhere in the country that time is decisive.”.
However, China expert Professor van Ess also points to some countertrends. First, regarding the number of hurricanes and tornadoes worldwide, which have decreased over the past two decades, although their intensity and strength have increased. Regarding China, he also commented:
“Yes, but funnily enough it seems that due to climate change it is now raining significantly more in the North and the North is becoming greener and more comfortable while the traditionally green and very wet south is now becoming dry. The capital no longer needs to be moved south from Beijing due to water shortages, which was discussed in the 1990s and used to be interpreted as a sign of weakness.”
Well, the north and Beijing gets most of their water from the Himalayan region in the west, the Three Gorges Dam and in the future hopefully through the planned Heaven Canal, which is supposed to lead from Tibet to Beijing and Shanghai and exactly these areas are affected hy the drought, especially since the glaciers are also melting and with them the water reservoirs. But it also shows that this is seen more as a power issue on the part of the CCP than an ecological issue and an issue of cost to the people and Chinese. The only interesting thing is whether the economy or state power would be reduced and that there is no political instability that could threaten the CCP. Nevertheless, there have often been end-of-the-world scenarios in the past that never materialized. It’s a bit reminiscent of the fable about the African boy who, just for fun, keeps warning the villagers about a lion he invented that doesn’t come and when he comes, the villagers are not listening anymore and the lion eats the boy. This dilemma is also illustrated very well by the following article in the green daily newspaper taz:
“Climate Change and Prognosis: The Apocalypse is Coming
Forecasts are wrong more often than they are right. That could also be the case with the climate – but you shouldn’t take that risk. Unless you have sadistic or fanatical religious tendencies, the end of the world is not exactly the most enjoyable topic of conversation. So let’s start with the Simpsons. In a flashback to the yellow comic family, scientist Professor Frink presents an early computer—man-tall and flashing in color. Frink – thick glasses, buck teeth, white coat – then predicts to the viewers: In 100 years, computers will only be twice as fast, but ten thousand times bigger, and so expensive that only the five richest kings in Europe will be able to afford them. The joke works because it serves a liberating feeling: Scientists are usually wrong. Back to the end of the world. The Australian Breakthrough National Center for Climate Restoration has concluded from the state of research on the world climate: There is a realistic risk that humanity will die out by 2050 if we continue as before. The temptation is great to classify the scenario in a series of amusing miscalculations: In the 1930s, the economist John Maynard Keynes predicted that his grandchildren’s generation would only have to work 15 hours a week; in the 1980s we would send the first human to Mars, thought futurist and Pentagon adviser Herman Kahn; Bill Gates thought the internet was a hype in 1993; In 1943, IBM boss Thomas Watson – the real Frink, so to speak – estimated the world’s need for computers at five. Oh yes, and the time of guitar music is over, said a talent scout from the record company Decca in 1962 to the young manager Brian Epstein, who wanted to make an up-and-coming band palatable to him: the Beatles.
The end is near
We love it when experts get it wrong. First: It gives us laypeople the comforting feeling that our own ignorance is not so bad after all. Second, it frees us from the depressing thought of living in a determinate world. And third: In the case of doomsday scenarios, it helps us to endure the cognitive dissonance: we know we should change our behavior. But we still don’t do it. It won’t be that bad. After all, there have often been warnings about the end of mankind. The experts used to be not scientists, but religious representatives. When Jesus proclaimed a new world in Jerusalem, it was drowned out by a loud apocalyptic background noise: so many supposed messiahs were preaching the imminent end of the world at the time that the Roman rulers didn’t particularly notice this Jesus.
In the Christian Middle Ages the end was always present. According to the prophet Daniel, the doctrine of the four kingdoms assumed that after the Babylonian, Persian, Greek and Roman empires, the kingdom of God would finally have to follow – in other words: the end of earthly existence. So the Central European patchwork quilt of principalities was called the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nations. Roman, so still part of the fourth empire.
Apocalypse postponed. Predictions of an old white man
Those were different times. But even we „modern people“ often get jitters from the end of time. For example, when it was said that the millennium bug would crash all computers and with them the operating system of our world at the turn of the millennium. And even before that: acid rain and dying forests, rearmament and nuclear war – that was nothing, say the know-it-alls today. But: haven’t we also avoided these possible futures precisely because we have taken these horrific scenarios seriously? Today’s warners no longer walk the streets with „The end is near“ signs slung over their chests. But even the white lab coat does not make you infallible, as Professor Frink reminds us. Couldn’t the climate warners be wrong too? Please!? Of course they could. Professor Frink’s full-bodied misjudgment is funny because it says something very apt about scientists. As a computer specialist, Frink is actually a good authority on the matter. But he is also: a nerdy, white man. The idea of this great, big device, giving itself a sense of greatness and power, becoming small and accessible to all – impossible to imagine!
Not powerful enough to destroy the system
And the sociology of science has in fact often shown that despite all sober objectivity, there is a lot of human activity in laboratories and institutes, and social conditions influence seemingly objective processes. Whether an institute buys an expensive measuring laser and maintains it itself or rents it and has to wait for external technicians for fine tuning: this can affect the measurement results. 2050 – those who want to survive It’s over by the middle of the century. Planet and mankind have reached the point of no return, an uninhabitable earth will lead to the collapse of civilization and international order – if we don’t change course radically. This is what the report published by the Australian think tank Breakthrough National Center for Climate Restoration says. We want to take this prognosis as an opportunity to think about what will happen by 2050, what can happen – and what must happen in order to avert the disaster as part of a series. We want to know how to live your life ‚til the end, and we want to contemplate a complex and potentially brighter future for humanity – one we are likely to miss. And postmodernists like Michel Foucault have suggested that basic ideological assumptions are also written into our scientific thinking, which we may, in the distant future, shake our heads at, like the absolute piety of the Bible in the Middle Ages. Perhaps there is a scientific misconception behind the fear of climate change: Because scientists play God in laboratory experiments and change and measure factors as outsiders, they transfer this thinking to their observation of the environment. They see human beings as something that stands outside of the environment instead of as part of it. Maybe this is just a human fantasy of omnipotence, maybe we are not powerful enough to destroy such a complex, self-regulating system.
Earn money with alarmism
Such postmodern mind games are entertaining, you can philosophize about them over expensive red wine and a box of unfiltered Gitanes. But they question science as a whole. And so far, science has proven to be quite useful for assessing concrete threats. So let’s get down to the details and consider: What small mistakes could lead researchers to get it wrong about the climate? According to Professor Frink, the erroneous forecasters had personal motives – consciously or unconsciously – that led them to make their misjudgements. Could something similar also apply to climatologists? Climate deniers like to insinuate that science only wants to use alarmism to collect research funds and/or has been bought by the solar industry. But experience shows that such interest-driven research is mostly found on the other side. Koch Industries in the US and other commodities firms have been caught several times trying to use funded research and selective facts to wash their dirty commodities deals clean.
Believe in post-growth
And while we’re on the topic of interest-driven research: As is well known, the oil company Exxon calculated in an internal study in 1977 that the seas would rise and therefore upgraded its oil platforms for a higher sea level. Researchers and experts can be wrong, and sometimes they lie. But is that why all of science and its scenarios are overthrown? The genius of science is its principle of learning from mistakes. A theory is retained and adjusted until it is disproved. We stay true to it when it helps us interpret and predict reality, very pragmatically. Hence the pragmatic counter-question: What risk do we take if we trust the 2050 scenario? What bad could happen if we no longer indulge in a neoliberal belief in the infinity of growth? Of course, if we switch our economy to sustainability, some things will become more expensive. And politicians must ensure that these costs are distributed fairly. But what is better? Either we now live greener and more economically and risk that the study is wrong. Can you protect the environment? Hardly likely. If, on the other hand, we prefer to cynically make fun of forecasts and continue to drive the Porsche Cayenne directly to the gym and the warning was justified – in 2050 nobody will be laughing anymore.“
While in many parts of the world climate change is seen as an impending threat or catastrophe, in Russia it is seen more as a historic opportunity. According to Gazprom advisor and Russia expert Dr. Alexander Rahr: „Russia is not opposed to climate change, because global warming will open up northern areas for urban construction that were previously uninhabitable because of the frost.“
Urban development with a rapidly declining population. Who do you want to settle there and for what? Russified Ukrainians? Central Asians and other Eurasians? Afghans? Or North Koreans, who the impoverished nuclear North Korea can no longer feed and who are settled as export workers or, as is now rumored, sent to the Ukraine war as “volunteers”? And the methane? A Russian agricultural expert once told us with shining eyes about rapidly increasing agricultural areas due to climate change, which would make the Russian resource and agroempire even stronger in a coming multipolar new world order. And if you look at the grain crisis in Ukraine, then it becomes clear how food serves as a geopolitical weapon. In a joint Global Review appeal with the Vice President of the Club of Rome Germany, “EU-Russian ecological cooperation needed despite and because of the Covid crisis”, published on the website of the Russian Foreign Ministry’s think tank Russian International Affairs Council (RIAC). , we pointed out at the time that the Agroempire would probably only last 20 years, since global warming and climate change would not simply stop and the so-called tipping points could occur. In addition, (not only) Russia is hoping for further political and economic gains with the thawing of the Arctic, new shipping routes and exploitable maritime, mineral and carbon resources. When Dr. Rahr asked Putin at the Valdai meeting our question about our idea of ecological cooperation between the EU and Russia in the Arctic, Putin was harshly and aggressively rejected it. The EU had no say in the Arctic, it’s all Russian. Dr Rahr summarized: “Yes, Putin wants to keep the Arctic for himself. But he will need technology.” Since the West is likely to drop out if Trump is not re-elected, he can turn to China or such powerful high-tech countries as North Korea, Belarus, Syria, Iran or maybe the Taliban. Or to India, which delivers them to him via detours. But then Modi could get in trouble with the US, which is why he will think twice about it. China seems the main viable option, but it doesn’t come for free. It is likely that the Arctic will then become more Chinese than Russian, with Russia running the risk of becoming a tributary state to China and playing the role of State Wagner for Chinese companies and interests. In any case, the probability remains high that the Arctic will then also become an overfished cesspool and garbage can and also an extended venue for the conflict between NATO and Russia, which may have expanded northward by then. Here again, somewhat nostalgically, the appeal from that time to make it clear what is and was not possible.
“EU-Russian ecological cooperation needed despite and because of the Covid crisis
Authors: Ralf Ostner (Global Review) / Frithjof Finkbeiner (Member Club of Rome , Desertec, Plant-for-the-Planet)
Many thought that due to the Covid crisis ecology and the ecological movement was dead and the idea of an EU-Russian ecological cooperation. Greta is back and still alive despite Covid. However Fridays for Future and the ecological movement is much more than Greta. The Youth had a symbolic poster demonstration in front of the German parliament and Merkel declared that she wanted to raise the EU climate benchmarks and use the billions of EU and European rescue and stimulus packages for a European Green Deal. This also offers Russia the potential to get EU support and money despite the sanction regime if it is willing to modernize its economy and to get in a green cooperation with Germany and the EU. And one should keep in mind that climate crisis and geopolitical struggles still exist and continue independent of the existing Covid crisis. The climate does not care about Covid.. They will catalyze the Covid effects and even on their own be more harmful and disastrous to world society than Covid.
Moreover, more and more people understand that climate and biodiversity are two sides of the same coin. The climate crisis puts many species under massive stress. Species extinction, population growth, urbanization, destruction of nature and climate crisis promote zoonosis.
The corona crisis has shaken up many people around the world with some changes in behavior as digital meetings became mainstream instead of physical meetings, we must not delude ourselves: After the corona crisis, we will all very quickly return to the global plundering system in order to secure our prosperity, also in Germany and Europe.
Russian strategists including Putin have a very ambivalent relation to climate crisis. On the one side Putin signed the Paris Climate Accord—different to Trump and Bolsonaro -, thinks about the consequences of the frost melt of the Russian East and the airing of methane, on the other side Putin as most Russian strategists have the vision of a Russian resource empire for the world economy. Ecological ideas are also very much underdeveloped in Russian think tanks, strategy forums and elites and the economic ton ideology of the former Soviet Union and the Western capitalist countries before the Club of Rome are still mainstream in Russia. Russia shall flood the world with gas, oil, wheat, timber and other mineral resources to get cash. Energy diplomacy is still a central part of the material base of the Russian economy and some strategists hope that in the case of global warming Russia could also become an agroempire due to expanding agricultural land and production as the other parts of the world will suffer from hunger.
The question is if this sort of traditional resource empire thinking can be replaced by a more modern ecological resource empire thinking which guarantees Russia an important place in the world and a material base. How can the traditional resource empire which is based on oil and gas exports overcome the contradiction with ecology, the Paris Climate Accord and the idea of decarbonisation?
The main interesting areas for an ecological cooperation should be:
Stop the deforestation of the Siberian woods—keep the green lung of the planet and Eurasia alive!
The Russian government has allowed China to chop off its woods as China itself stopped deforestation of its own forests. The Siberian woods are equally important for the world climate as the Amazonian rain forest – they are equally important the green lung for the planet and Eurasia. Therefore the EU could initiate a rescue program for the conservation of the Siberian forests and sign with Russia an agreement for the regulated, sustainable and ecological export of the Russian timber industry which allows Russia to get an income and to save its forests.
Forest Preservation and Reforestation
The most dangerous thing about global warming are the tipping points. If the tipping points of the climate crisis are exceeded, i.e. if the earth heats up by more than 2°C, the climate crisis becomes independent. It can no longer be stopped and becomes a catastrophe.
And this is where the trees come into play: they absorb CO2 and thus slow down global warming. We will not reach the tipping points so quickly and we can do everything we can to prevent it.
An additional 1,000 billion trees annually bind 10 billion tons of CO2, or a quarter of our current CO2 emissions. So if we plant these additional trees and protect our existing trees, we gain time. Without these trees, in 26 years we will have used up the CO2 budget of 1,100 billion tonnes that we have left to maintain the 2°C limit.
We need the extra time so that we can convert the world to methanol economy, i.e. climate-neutral fuels, and desert power. And we’ve wasted way too much time doing nothing already. Trees give us back some of this time by binding CO2 from the atmosphere and thus keeping the earth below the critical 2°C limit.
If we harvest the trees in time before they rot and thus before CO2 is released, the “C”, the carbon, remains stored in the wood. At the same place we can plant new trees and thus new storehouses. Go for Climate visits wooden houses as they are built in Vienna and Oslo with more than 80 m height. The carbon remains bound in them for decades. In addition – and this is even more important for the climate – every wooden house avoids reinforced concrete, which is responsible for 11% of global CO2 emissions.
Wood fibre can also replace plastic soon. Today there are already plastic toys made of wood fibre, hopefully soon PET bottles as well.
In addition to forestry and the use of wood, “proper” agriculture is also of great importance. Here, too, the “C”, the carbon, can be stored in the soil.
Wood and wood elements from building construction that are no longer used, as well as wood waste from forestry, should no longer be burned to CO2, but used to produce biochar. The “C” remains stored in the biochar and can thus be stored in the agricultural soil. This also enriches the soil with nutrients and the new trees and fruits grow faster, which will also contribute to sustainable agriculture – such as the fertile Terra Preta in the Amazon basin.
Agriculture will therefore become an ally in the fight against climate change if it is designed in such a way that soils become carbon stores.
Like forestry, agriculture also offers the potential to create many millions of jobs.
Solutions such as afforestation and “real” agriculture are part of initiatives such as the Bonn Challenge and AFR100 in the context of landscape restoration. These two initiatives alone set the goal of rebuilding 350 million hectares of degraded land by 2030.
Develop soft tourism in Russia
Most Europeans if they visit Russia, mostly got to urban centers like St. Petersberg and Moscow. EU-Russian ecological cooperation could develop soft tourism in the Russian East and by railway to enjoy the beauty of the Russian landscape, including the Siberian forests. Another idea would be to built new datchas for tourists or to rent them part-time to European tourists, There are about 40 million Russians and their families who have a datcha and they could part-time rent them to European tourists to have a Russian nature experience or you built new tourist datchas and romantic log houses for ecological sustainable soft tourism. It would also be a great chance to meet Russians and to deepen the intercultural understanding of European and Russian people.
Russia is very dependent on oil and gas exports. Some strategists hope that if they boycott renewable energies and support Trump or anti-ecological parties or organisations, they could stop this trend. This is unrealistic. The renewable energies have already a cost advantage and if Trump, Russia, Saudi Arabia want to stop this trend then they have to sell their oil and gas at such a low price, that there will not be any state or private revenues left. Russia just experiences this in the oil price war between Trump- USA, OPEC and Russia. On the other side there is not the absolute decision between carbon- and non-carbon economies. Oil and gas will be reduced, but for a foreseeable future still be part of the energy mix. As Prof. Rahr, EU adviser to Gazprom proposed, Russian carbons could be used for the production of hydrogen technology. However it would be a bad idea if Russia for the production of hydrogen would burn gas and raise the CO2 emissions. Hydrogen technology only makes sense if its energy base are renewable energies.
With the clean and unlimited solar power from the desert we can produce hydrogen from water and combine it with CO2 from the air to methanol. Methanol stores solar electricity with an energy density that is 50 times higher than that of a battery. And it has another decisive advantage: it does not need any routes and can be transported just as easily today as its fossil predecessors, e.g. in tankers. Methanol is the basis for clean kerosene, petrol and diesel, or “e-fuel” for short. We can immediately add the clean kerosene to the fossil aviation fuel in order to gradually replace it completely. E-Fuels can operate existing combustion engines in a climate-neutral way – methanol economy. The oil companies have other plans: over 7% of the world’s oil and gas reserves are in Africa and the oil companies plan to increase their investments in oil and gas production there tenfold by 2030 in order to increase production accordingly.
The dependence on insecure regimes that supply us with fossil fuels today will be reduced, because any country with a desert can become an energy-exporting country in the future. Clean energy production in the deserts of the earth is therefore probably the largest peace-building measure.
Therefore it would be better if the EU invests in Clean gas technology, tries to find out if in Russia there could be built enough solar and wind parks for the hydrogen technology.
Support EU-Russian start ups and technology leaders
The EU should support Russian start ups and technology leaders in sectors which are important for the green foot print. Modern traffic systems, energy saving houses, infrastructure, city planning and architecture.,development of railways and green mobility, etc.
Many strategist do not only think of Russia as a carbon resource empire, but also of an agro empire. They do not care about ecology, have a very narrow understanding of its meaning and limit ecological cooperation to agricultural cooperation. They have the shortsighted, optimistic point of view that the global warming will boost agricultural land and production in Russia, while the rest of the world needs more food from Russia. Thereby Russia as an agricultural resource empire could also raise its role in the coming new multipolar world order and be the wheat and food chamber of the world. However, this might be the case for a decade, but if global warming reaches a certain (tipping) point, Russia will also suffer enormous droughts and the vision of the agro empire is finished in the midterm. President Putin also referred to the dramatic consequences of global warming for perma frozen areas for Russia and the rest of the world in his State of the Union address. He seems to have a clearer idea than some of his think tanks and strategists.
However, Russia can be a big agricultural supplier and the EU should support ecological, sustainable agricultural cooperation.
Among these projects one would be also be very important:Russia also is not yet prepared for the next agricultural revolution from the Silicon Valley:Before trying to compensate for the global protein supply of humanity by insect food, there is now an innovation: artificial meat. Invitro meat. No science fiction: Meat that is already bred from meat cells today and in the future in mass production in silos, by means of 3d printers or what still exists .No genetic engineering, but in the broadest sense reproduction technology. It does not breed a whole chicken, but only the chicken wing, does not fatten a whole goose but only breeds the goose liver, etc. No science fiction, but is already done and the prices fall rapidly. No more factory farming, no more destruction of the rainforests and deforestation, no more waste that pollutes the groundwater, no more cruelty to animals and no more animal transports, no chick shredding, no more vegetarianism and veganism as the only way out, no more ecological disaster and the organic farmers, the bio farmers are no longer the good guys. While vegetarians and vegans criticize this because the change is happening technologically and from the outside and not from the inside by a change in consciousness and thinking, David Precht sees here rather the problem that the companies have the patents on the manufacturing processes and monopolize the production chain as Montesano monopolizes seed.
Besides other agricultural cooperation, the EU and Russia should find out if the disruptive agricultural technology for the production of artificial meat is feasible and in the interest of both sides.
Waste and sewage management The Russian waste management including the recycling idea is still very underdeveloped in Russia. This could be the next field for a cooperation.
Save the Arctic
The geopolitical struggle about the Arctic has just started. Climate change leads to the new situation that shipping routes become ice-free, oil, gas and mineral resources, fishing and maritime resources could be exploited on a greater scale. The USA, the EU, Russia and China want more influence in the development of the Arctic, China has even an official development plan for the Artic, while the USA wants to give Greenland money for its resources and military bases, sends the first military ships in the Barents Sea, informs Russia bout this as signal that it demands its sphere of influence in the Arctic and does not want to come in a conflict with Russia. However, the EU should also develop its development plan for the Arctic and to evaluate the potentials for a EU-Russian cooperation in the Arctic. The EU should support all Russian initiatives which focus that the Arctic doesn´t become a polluted, overfished and ecological disastrous region.
The EU and Russia planned a climate change conference in Moscow before the Covid crisis which has been postponed and might be organized virtually in the future. Time to make up the mind for new ideas as this article which could start an interesting discussion for both sides.
This also triggered a discussion in parts of the Russian elite, especially since the Eurasia ideologist and representative of the Russian „Asian pivot“ Karaganov felt compelled to voice his ideas on climate and environmental protection, which, however, are more blood and clod ideology, afforestation of the Siberian forest and settlement development of dachas than ideas in terms of ecological thinking:
“EU-Russian ecological cooperation-the discussion in the Russian elite has just started: RIAC, CREON, IISES, Karaganov, NRU-HSE and Russia in Global Affairs”
Nevertheless, our purposeful optimism was probably naive and idealistic. The Russian elites are still very traditional economists, geostrategists, natural scientists and urban planners of the mental era before the time of the Club of Romes („limits to growth“), especially since there is no environmental movement or ecological thinking in Russia, yes, much thinking still derives from the barrel ideology of the Soviet Union. Especially since for the influential siloviki, Putin and Russian elites, in their eyes and in their perception, ecology and ecologists are not serious science and scientists who are the right representatives or criteria of real- or geopolitics, but rather suspect, western pacifist Jesus-sandal-wearing and filthy hippies and romantic-idealists Daydreaming ideologues in a Hobbesian world of wolves who only want or would ruin the resource and agroempire and thus Russia. Similar how Trump or the AfD perceive the idea of green capitalism and the New Green New Deal.
Our request to the Greens about ecological cooperation between the EU and Russia was rejected as unrealistic and this assessment should turn out to be correct:
„Annalena Baerbock and Katrin Göring Eckhardt on EU-Russia climate protection cooperation: „In our view, the cooperation options you have outlined will therefore be difficult or impossible to implement with the current leadership in the Kremlin“
Global Review once asked Annalena Baerbrock and Katrin Göring-Eckhardt on Bundestag Watch how they felt about EU-Russia climate protection cooperation. Unfortunately, we only received very general, rather negative answers, which, moreover, cannot imagine cooperation with Putin and the Russian government, but above all only via NGOs.
Dear Ms Baerbock, How do you feel about an EU-Russia climate protection cooperation that includes the afforestation of the green lungs of Eurasia, the Siberian forests, the promotion of blue and green hydrogen technology with gas, cooperation in the construction of green and smart cities, cooperation for sustainable agriculture including Clean Meat, promoting gentle dacha tourism and collective protection of the Arctic?
Ralf Ostner (Global Review)
Dear Mr Ostner,
Thank you for your message. Multilateral climate protection cooperation is at the heart of our foreign climate policy. We are aware that the socio-ecological transformation also requires cooperation with countries such as China or Russia. However, we also see that the Russian government is increasingly positioning itself in open rejection and hostility towards the EU and the values we have jointly agreed in Europe, and that its policies are undermining political goals such as the Paris climate agreement. Russia’s economy is massively dependent on the export of fossil raw materials and not very diversified. This is the main reason for the country’s social, economic and ecological stagnation. This often hides oligarchic and corrupt structures that support Putin’s regime and hinder any progress. Unfortunately also in relations with the EU. From our point of view, the possibilities for cooperation you have outlined will therefore be difficult or impossible to implement with the current leadership in the Kremlin. Nevertheless, in the event of a possible Green government participation in our relations with Russia, we will repeatedly point out the need for ecological transformation and cooperation and offer this.
Kind regards Team Annalena Baerbock
Dear Ms/Team Baerbock,
Why can’t the Greens, like Joe Biden or his climate protection officer Kerry, promote selective cooperation with Russia on climate protection despite all other differences? How do you feel about a CSCE negotiation format with Russia that includes ecology as the 9th negotiation basket alongside disarmament, the economy, human rights and other issues. Why should one be able to negotiate with the Soviet Union before and not with Russia anymore?
Ralf Ostner (Global Review)
Dear Mr Ostner,
Thank you for your renewed request. In March 2016, the European Union agreed on five basic principles for dealing with Russia. The fourth principle names selective engagement with Russia and expressly includes cooperation against the climate crisis. We Greens are in good and close contact with Russian civil society and the environmental protection movement and want an open dialogue with Russian society. Especially in relation to the global challenge of the climate crisis. However, the Russian energy strategy is still primarily based on the consumption and export of fossil fuels. Oil products alone account for about 40 percent of Russian exports to the European Union. The European „Green Deal“ therefore represents a serious revenue risk for the Russian Federation. We refer to this in our discussion with the federal government and our contacts in Russia. It is clear to us that Russia has also committed itself to the Paris climate protection agreement, albeit late. The government must therefore initiate structural change, prepare for the reduced demand for fossil raw materials and initiate the decarbonization of its own economy. So far, however, the Kremlin seems far removed from such a strategy. Most recently, Putin made it possible to increase emissions. The share of wind and sun in the Russian electricity mix is currently only 0.25 percent. We are in talks with many experts about what effects the Green Deal could have on cooperation with Russia and what economic and political offers are available to support the modernization of Russia and integrate it into an overall strategy. Unfortunately, it is also clear that the current Russian government shows no interest in such cooperation, but is trying by all means, for example via Nord Stream 2, to stick to the old business model of fossil exports.
Kind regards Team Annalena Baerbock
Dear Ms Goering-Eckhardt,
How do you feel about an EU-Russia climate protection cooperation that includes the afforestation of the green lungs of Eurasia, the Siberian forests, the promotion of blue and turquoise hydrogen technology with gas, the promotion of gentle dacha tourism, sustainable cooperation in agriculture including clean meat, the cooperation in green and smart cities from urban planning to mobility and the joint protection of the Arctic?
Ralf Ostner (Global Review)
Dear Mr Ostner, Thank you for your question to Mrs. Göring-Eckardt. She asked us to answer you. A global socio-ecological transformation will not be possible without China, Russia or Brazil. The economic and ecological modernization of Russia has failed for years due to a lack of will on the part of the country’s political leadership. Russia has increasingly turned into an authoritarian state and is increasingly aggressively undermining democracy and stability in the EU and in the common neighbourhood. At the same time, the democracy movement in Russia is gaining strength. We want to support and intensify the exchange with the courageous civil society that is defying the increasingly harsh repression by the Kremlin and is fighting for human rights, democracy and environmental progress. The Nord Stream 2 pipeline project is not only harmful in terms of climate and energy policy, but also geostrategically – especially for the situation in Ukraine – and must therefore be stopped.
Kind regards, Office Goering-Eckardt
As reading recommendations:
Climate protection: Towards a selective ecological coooperation between the US, EU and Russia?
EU-Russian ecological cooperation needed despite and because of the Covid crisis
By Global Review/Club of Rome Germany/Desert Tech/ Plant for the Planet
RIAC — CREON Group Seminar “Prospects for Cooperation between Russia and the EU in the Ecology Sphere”
Russian Climate Fund/Umweltschutz in Russland: Die Aufförsterin
Kerry’s China climate talks should focus on coal consumption