It is disorientating, to say the very least, to find that Vladimir Putin has become a voice of reason on the great contemporary question of climate change. However, it is worth examining what the Russian President said in his response to questions on whether he shared popular enthusiasm for the likely nomination of Swedish climate activist, Greta Thunberg, for a nobel peace prize.

At an energy conference in Moscow last week, Putin was asked to comment on a speech delivered by Thunberg to the United Nations in New York in September 2019. He said that it was “right and very good” that young people focused upon ecological problems, but regretted that “nobody explained to Greta that the modern world is complicated”. He added that “people in Africa and in many Asian countries want to be as wealthy as people in Sweden”, raising the practical problems involved with introducing expensive technologies in regions of the world crippled by poverty and questioning the morality of telling developing countries that they must remain poor in order to save the planet.