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Russia wants to use a forest bigger than India to offset carbon

Much of Russia’s Far East is so vast and remote that it’s mostly been left to the bears, wolves and rare breed of tiger that live there. Now the Kremlin wants to use it to convince the world that the country is doing its part to fight climate change.

Photo: Uncredited/AP/Ritzau Scanpix

Russia, the world’s biggest energy exporter and one of its largest polluters, is creating a digital platform to collect satellite and drone data about the CO₂ absorption capacity of the Far East region’s forests. The aim ostensibly is to monetize an area nearly twice the size of India by turning it into a marketplace for companies to offset their carbon footprint.

The hope is that the plan will also deflect some of the criticism Moscow is getting over its unambitious climate efforts ahead of United Nations talks later this year. Russia has long argued that it should be granted more slack in climate talks for the sequestration potential of its forests, which hold an estimated 640 billion trees. But until now the huge taiga has been poorly managed, leading to record forest fires in the past two years as global warming has made summers hotter and dryer.

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