“Don’t worry, be happy.”
Those were the only four English words Russian President Vladimir Putin said at a St. Petersburg International Economic Forum last Friday, reacting to President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement the day before.
Trump indeed has given Putin plenty of reasons to not worry and be happy. His chaotic presidency has only alienated the US, destabilized traditional alliances, and helped to strengthen Russia’s position internationally, and his withdrawal of the world’s biggest economy from the fight against climate change has given Putin yet another advantage. The future of the Paris climate change agreement is now more uncertain than ever, which throws more obstacles in the way of transitioning to renewables. France’s environment minister went so far as to warn that the US and Russia could be the “axis of mass destruction” by advancing fossil fuels interests at the expense of global stability.
But as unique as this historic moment is, in many ways, Putin has been here before.