Research objectives of the Research Group on the Russian Environment

Despite the vast natural resources, politically motivated fossil-fuel reliance has impaired Russia’s position as a leader in world climate policy and in clean energy. What opportunities and challenges arise from global energy and climate policies in terms of Russia’s choices and practices in the energy and environmental sectors? What options does Russia have to influence these policies? To what extent will these choices affect Russia’s domestic status quo in terms of repercussions to its society and economy? Russia has the potential to become a global leader in renewable energy and climate policy, and a central provider of environmentally sound gas. Combining Russia’s great-power aspirations, its ecosystem services, and energy potential in different arenas may enable this change, which would increase resilience of the Russian society. On the other hand, if Russia is unable to rid itself of the resource curse, it will erode its resilience, lure Russia to utilize energy and other flows as a geopolitical weapon, and undermine the country’s role as a global leader in climate governance.

Multidisciplinarity

The Research Group on Russian Environment at the Aleksanteri Institute will explore the entanglement of the society and the environment with a multi-scalar approach. That is, society – nature interactions will be unfolded from the realities of Russian local communities to Russia’s role in international environmental cooperation, as well as in global environmental governance and stewardship. The geographic focus of the The Research Group is on Russia, yet in order to understand its role in the environmental sphere we need to look and include also experiences from the whole European and Eurasian post-Socialist contexts. More, in order to grasp these multi-scalar processes and their intertwinement in different contexts we apply a multidisciplinary theoretical take in our research on Russia and the post-Socialist space bringing in a cross-temporal manner together social and natural sciences, but also opt for transdisciplinary engagement by reaching beyond the traditional academic forms of knowledge production in our quest to understand how the ongoing global environmental change impacts Russia and the post-Socialist space, and vice versa.

Research question

The main research question we aim to answer as a Research Group is: What are the societal effects of and responses to the ongoing environmental change in Russia and the post-Socialist space? We approach this question via three specific topical areas: space & resources; people & nature; energy & climate. Space and resources is about environmental governance and planning of physical urban and rural space and, therefore, also of natural resources. People and nature quests for unfolding human – nature interactions, as well as health of human populations and natural ecosystems. Energy and climate heads towards understanding the role of Russia and the post-Socialist space as source of security and resilience, as well as of risk and conflict via the intertwinement of the energy issues with the global climate change.