Peter Foster: Vladimir Putin’s Green Allies

  • Date: 08/03/14
  • Peter Foster, Financial Post

Greens are everywhere resolutely opposed to fracking, and nowhere more than in Europe. Like their peace march colleagues half a century ago, they are ultimately dupes for an authoritarian agenda, be it that of the high priests of Gaia, or Vladimir Putin.


Few environmentalists would regard themselves as allies of Vladimir Putin. Indeed, in their stout opposition to petroleum, which the Russian president is using both as a piggy bank and a weapon for expanding his power, it might appear that they are opponents. Such a view is superficial.

In many ways, both Mr. Putin’s Russia and the modern green movement are offshoots of the collapse of the Soviet empire. They remain united against the old Soviet enemy: free markets and free minds.

Petroleum has been the energy driver of economic growth and prosperity for much of the past century, but it has also fuelled tyranny: “the resource curse.” Oil and gas were indeed a curse for the Soviet people for seventy years. However, the dependence of the Soviet state on petroleum revenues during a time of sagging prices in the 1980s also helped push it into collapse. [...]

From the perspective of those behind “official” climate science and the Kyoto process, Russia’s industrial collapse in the 1990s had been not so much a disaster as a model. They even offered rewards to Russia in the shape of “credits” for the reduction in greenhouse gases that went with post Soviet turmoil.

In the Alice-in-wonderland climate policy world, Russia would be able to sell its non-emissions to Western producers, who would be forced to buy them as a penalty for creating wealth under a relatively free market.

The European Union dangled membership of the World Trade Organization as another incentive to Mr. Putin to sign onto Kyoto, which Mr. Putin duly did, even though one of his most insightful former advisors, Andrei Illarionov, called it a “death pact.” However, just as millionaire climate evangelists such as Al Gore, Neil Young and Tom Steyer think that lifestyle restraint is for others, so Mr. Putin no doubt grasped that Kyoto commitment was only for suckers (such as Canada).

He realized that the environmental movement’s attempts to end the age of petroleum would impact only his Western rivals, first in their campaigns against private oil companies, and second in the disastrous impact of green policies in weakening Europe. [...]

Fast forward seven years and Europe’s alternative energy policy is in a shambles. The EU would be even more vulnerable but for a typically unanticipated example of free market ingenuity: hydraulic fracturing and the boom in shale gas.

Natural gas is much less emissions intensive than oil and coal, so you would think that any movement concerned to reduce emissions would welcome this development. But guess what: Greens are everywhere resolutely opposed to fracking, and nowhere more than in Europe.

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