When Russia and the US agree on something, you know it must be serious. This week, the US Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry traveled quietly to Moscow to meet with his Russian counterpart, Ruslan Edelgeriev, his aim was not to talk about the usual thorny issues — cyber attacks and election meddling — but a bigger, more existential threat that will affect them both: climate change.
US-Russia relations tumbled to a low point under the presidency of Donald Trump. Not much has really improved, yet Kerry’s trip to Moscow, so early on in the Biden presidency, is a notable sign the Cold War foes could get on the same page about this one thing, if little else. As the world’s second and sixth biggest polluters, respectively, the United States and Russia agreed on the need to step up on climate action, and said they would work together to tackle the challenge.
The meeting — and a later one with Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov — struck a very different tone to last month’s frosty summit between Biden and the Russian President Vladimir Putin. Lavrov addressed Kerry as “dear John” and said his visit was an “important and positive signal for the development of our bilateral relations.” Lola Vallejo, the climate program director at the Institute for Sustainable Development and International Relations, said the announcement was a testament to Biden’s commitment on climate.