In the NPR podcast and transcript Former NSA McMaster proposes climate policy to pressure Russia is the following exchange between reporter Michel Martin and former National Security Advisor, General H.R. McMaster:

MARTIN: So first of all, we should say that Russia makes a lot of money from exporting natural gas through a number of pipelines to Europe, and European governments are eager to not have that supply disrupted or shut off, especially in the middle of winter. So that being said, can you describe this idea of using climate and trade policy to put pressure on Russia? What exactly are you proposing?

MCMASTER: It's really important to recognize that economic security is national security, and energy security is national security. And we can't really compartmentalize these aspects of policy. They ought to be consistent with one another. We ought to reward economically those who produce energy sources in a way that reduces carbon emissions, and this is, in particular, natural gas production and shipment. Russia - the way that Russia produces natural gas is dirty itself. The United States, the way we produce and export natural gas with LNG and others is relatively clean, and this is a way to align economic incentives with using, in this case, natural gas as a bridge to renewables and zero-emissions energy sources. We know we can't do it really any other way, Michel. I mean, this is why, you know, Europe can't keep the lights on. And the fact that they are dependent on Russian gas has given Vladimir Putin tremendous coercive power over Europe's economies.

Question: Is the natural gas sold to other countries by Russia produced in a more environmentally detrimental way than the natural gas sold by the US? If so, how? Why?

  • 2
    Interesting. I'll dig into this if I get the chance, but I'm going to guess that if it's true, the "how" is that Russia doesn't control for leaks as well, and the "why" is because doing so would be costly.
    – LShaver
    Jan 24, 2022 at 2:31
  • 2
    methane leaks are huge issue for the fossil industry in general. Much of the equipment was designed back when methane was only a problem if it exploded. It's also difficult to control leaks of a low-value product without becoming unprofitable.
    – Móż
    Jan 24, 2022 at 3:00
  • 1
    @Móż ...was only known to be a problem...
    – uhoh
    Jan 24, 2022 at 3:10
  • 1
    There's some country-level data from IEA here, which does indeed show that Russia's emissions are both higher and more intense than those of the U.S.
    – LShaver
    Jan 24, 2022 at 17:11
  • 1
    Just in today, Mapping Methane Emissions from Fossil Fuel Exploitation. Russia has some very emission rate data.
    – Fred
    Jan 25, 2022 at 12:28

1 Answer 1


Generally, yes; but difficult to quantify. Environment and safety have lower priorities in Russia ( and other countries) than in the west.As an example I remember touring a Russian steel mill with no safety glasses, no hardhat, etc, unless you brought your own. I felt undressed compared to being in a western mill. Starting with the well drilling mud which is contained and treated in the west, it is pretty much left in the mud pits unless some is salvaged for the next well in Russia. Admitted all I have is anecdotal; like Amoco drillers refused to go back to Russian drill site after first trip due to safety concerns (about 1990). However , Russians want to make money selling oil and gas, so they lose as little as possible.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.