Applying an admirable glass half full approach to the climate change dilemma, the Russians have decided to look on the bright side of rising sea levels.

The Oz reported earlier this week that senior officials in Moscow are convinced that Russia stands to “reap an economic bonanza from ice-free northern oceans.”

Not put off by the sight of polar bears desperately paddling to keep their heads above the biggest ice melts in recent history, Moscow is actually adding to the run off by drooling over the prospect of new shipping routes and access to once frozen, now increasingly slushy, oil and gas fields.

The melting icecap has raised the tantalising possibility of new shipping passages that could cut trading costs and times on routes such as from Europe to China and Japan.

The entire Arctic Ocean hasn’t been free of ice in summer for more than a million years, but analysts believe this could happen again sometime between 2013 and 2040.

And it’s feared that Russia’s new take on the perks of global warming will mean that they’ll emerge as the real renegade at Copenhagen next year. But who’s to say they can’t get the jump on this thing ahead of 09 and get busy warming?

According to official energy stats from the US government (EIA), Russia actually boasts the lowest carbon emissions growth rate among the non-OECD countries, at 0.9 percent per year:

Over the projection period, Russia is expected to expand its reliance on indigenous natural gas resources and nuclear power to fuel electricity generation, and a decline in its population is expected to slow the overall rate of increase in energy demand.

But that’s quitting talk. Luckily, Russia’s emissions output per capita punches above its weight:

Among the non-OECD countries, Russia has the highest projected increase in carbon dioxide emissions per capita in the IEO2008 reference case, from 12 metric tons per person in 2005 to 17 metric tons in 2030. A projected decline in Russia’s population, averaging 0.6 percent per year from 2005 to 2030, slows the growth in its total carbon dioxide emissions to an average annual rate of 0.9 percent, but the population decline leads to a higher rate of increase in emissions per capita.

So what more can civic minded Russians do to ensure that those ship routes open up quick smart? Suggestions please to the Kremlin…

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