Conference e-mail

The Aleksanteri Institute

Unioninkatu 33 (P.O. Box 42)
00014 University of Helsinki

Past Aleksanteri Conferences

Benjamin Beuerle (German Historical Institute Moscow, Russia)

Climate Change in the Russian Far East: Controversial Perspectives

By all accounts, Russia’s Far Eastern region belongs to the areas most affected by climate change, due, among others, to its permafrost soils. Therefore, it could be assumed that awareness for the problems of climate change is more acute there than in the Russian public and politics in general. On the other hand, more so than in Russia at large, the relatively cold climate can promote counter-discourses which praise the effects of climate change as potentially beneficial for the region.

It is the purpose of this paper to highlight exemplarily such controversial voices on climate change in a part of the regional media and public between the Rio Conference and Russia’s signing of the Paris Agreement (1992 – 2016). Which importance is given to climate change as a topic? Who are the most articulate actors? Which discourses and narratives can be discerned and which of them are most dominant? Which role plays the region’s vicinity to the Pacific Ocean? In order to study these questions, various newspaper articles and statements by politicians, scientists and NGOs from the regional centre towns Vladivostok, Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky and Khabarovsk shall be examined.

It should be noted that the writing of this paper represents one of the first steps of a broader research project on perceptions of and reactions to climate change and related policy approaches in Russia during the last decades (1980s – 2010s) with a special focus on the Russian Far East. This project has just started at the German Historical Institute Moscow as part of a new research area on Russia in the Northern Pacific Region. Any comments on the part of the conference participants will be most welcome.