A Hero’s Counsel: Communist Climate Policy at the 1979 World Climate Conference

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Abstract Summary
The paper explores the intellectual and ideological underpinnings of Evgeny Konstantinovich Fedorov's pronouncements on the future of communist climate policies during his 1979 plenary at the World Climate Conference (Geneva). Fedorov (1910-81), a Hero of the Soviet Union and Stalin Prize winner, was a Russian geophysicist, polar explorer, academician and Director of the Soviet Hydrometeorological Service. He led the Soviet delegation at the Geneva conference during which he made a salient intervention in contrasting communist and free-market approaches to climate change policy. In his view, only socialist societies based on intrinsic human values could provide basis for a policy that protected human dignity, international peace and the environment. This position has origins in Fedorov’s 1972 Man and Nature, in which he presented a Marxist environmental perspective in agreement with the conclusions of the Club of Rome’s Limits to Growth. For his plenary at the Geneva World Climate Conference, Fedorov additionally drew on Ervin Laszlo's Goals for Mankind (prepared for the Club of Rome in 1977). Laszlo argued for ‘breaking of inner limits’ and for ‘a world Solidarity Revolution,’ which Fedorov thought was central to any criticism of the Western hypocrisy towards the environment and for his own – and the Soviet – politics of climate change. In bringing to light this critical, if ultimately misguided position, this paper hopes to contribute to a more granular history of the pre-1980s thinking about climate change and climate change policy that includes voices that so far have received less visibility among historians of science.
Abstract ID :
HSS765
Submission Type
Organized Session
Abstract Topic
Earth and Environmental Sciences
Chronological Classification :
20th century, late
Self-Designated Keywords :
EK Fedorov, Climate Change, Soviet Union