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Russian Billionaire "Andrey Melnichenko" Combats Emissions through Restoring Siberia's Ice Age

Mon 04 Dec 2023 | 01:02 AM
Taarek Refaat

Russian billionaire Andrey Melnichenko made a fortune in coal and fertilizer before finding himself punished for invading Ukraine. Now he has a plan to stop methane emissions from melting permafrost in Siberia - a return to a time when mammoths roamed the barren tundra, according to Bloomberg.

Within a luxurious pavilion at the COP28 climate summit in Dubai, Melnichenko presents a plan to restore an aspect of the Russian environment that dates back 14,000 years. It is a strange idea to confront a very serious problem, which is methane emissions, a gas that is considered much more powerful than carbon dioxide, and billions of tons. It is confined to the vast tundra of Russia. The theory is that restoring Siberia's Ice Age ecosystem may slow its release.

Over the next two weeks, more than 70,000 delegates and thousands of UAE residents will visit the sprawling site hosting the COP, where they will have the opportunity to see a digital cast of Ice Age animals roaming the tundra in spring on the screens of an exhibition that immerses them in the world of the metaverse that mixes reality and fantasy. As visitors walk, the digital fog around them lifts, revealing mammoths, reindeer, wild horses and musk oxen, as well as lions and camels.

The official website of the United Nations Climate Change Conference lists the Andriy Melnichenko Foundation as “climate-supportive.” It earned this status by sponsoring the 160-square-meter pavilion in the so-called Green Zone of the summit, where the Russian Pleistocene Park project financed by Melnichenko is presenting its plans, according to a project representative. Nothing indicates the pavilion on the official map of the summit except the name “Andrey Melnichenko.”

The pavilion reflects what has changed at the Conferences of the Parties, an annual opportunity to give impetus to climate diplomacy and set a global policy framework to combat climate change. Formal negotiations became just a small part of the forum.