COP26 climate summit: Vladimir Putin's no-show underlines huge potential market for UK renewable energy – Scotsman comment

Ten days to COP26: Vladimir Putin’s announcement that he will not attend the UN climate summit in Glasgow came with no explanation. The Russian president didn’t even say he planned to be washing his hair.

The Covid pandemic has been suggested as a reason by some, but the importance of fossil fuels to Russia's economy cannot be overlooked.

According to a report by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) last year, Russia is the third largest producer of fossil fuels in the world with the second largest proven reserves of natural gas.

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The oil and gas sector makes up nearly 39 per cent of the country’s industrial production and the resulting revenues contribute 36 per cent of the federal government’s budget. In 2017, fossil fuels accounted for some 63 per cent of Russian exports.

So when a Kremlin spokesman claimed that climate change was “one of the priorities of our foreign policy”, no one should be in any doubt that Putin has others that conflict and are almost certainly more important to him.

Furthermore, when dealing with the Russian president it is important to remember that this a man who has subverted democracy to such an extent that he is virtually a dictator, sent his troops to invade Ukraine and prop up Syria’s brutal tyrant Bashar Assad, and sent his agents to murder people in the UK.

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COP26: Putin will not attend climate conference in Glasgow

He has also shown a willingness to use Russia’s gas supplies as a means to exert political pressure on other countries, with suspicions that restricting Russian exports is a factor in the current spike in global prices.

Vladimir Putin will not be coming to the UN's COP26 climate summit in Glasgow (Picture: Alexey Nikolsky/AFP via Getty Images)

But for many countries in Europe there could be an alternative source of energy that is cheap, green and supplied by a fellow liberal democracy – namely the UK.

As Boris Johnson, among others, has claimed, the UK could be the “Qatar of hydrogen” and the “Saudi Arabia of renewables” because of its vast ‘reserves' of wind, wave and tidal energy, much of which are in Scotland.

Countries still heavily dependant on coal and gas will increasingly be looking for ways to help cut their emissions and will doubtless welcome the chance to become less reliant on the unreliable, scheming and murderous Putin.

As this market waits eagerly, the UK should get on with making Johnson’s dream a reality.

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