Russia's government has quietly made a dramatic change to its policy on climate change, accepting that anthropogenic global warming poses severe risks and requires immediate action to limit carbon emissions.

"Russia's diplomatic approach to [December's scheduled climate talks in] Copenhagen was until now just one big silence," says Kristin Jørgensen, a climate-policy expert with Bellona, an environmental watchdog based in Norway that has a network of activists in Russia. "This is a totally surprising move. There were no hearings, no stakeholder discussion, no public debate — just nothing."

Policy analysts believe that the new climate 'doctrine', adopted in late April, marks a historic turning point. Principally a position statement, the doctrine also outlines a checklist of key climate actions. It follows a February assessment report compiled by leading Russian climate scientists, which was presented to the Russian cabinet on 23 April.