From small villages to big cities, wherever you go in Kazakhstan these days, billboards offer reminders that Astana is gearing up to host Expo 2017, the next World’s Fair. Kazakhstan helped secure the right to host the event with a pledge to emphasize green energy alternatives. But now it appears that Kazakhstan is red-lighting its own green transition.
Green energy has been the rage in Kazakhstan in recent years, but the country’s strongman president, Nursultan Nazarbayev, seemed to shift gears out of the blue in late September. “I personally do not believe in alternative energy sources, such as wind and solar,” the Interfax news agency quoted Nazarbayev as saying on September 30 during a meeting with Vladimir Putin in the Caspian city of Atyrau. And echoing a familiar Kremlin refrain, Nazarbayev added that “the shale euphoria does not make any sense.”
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Paolo Sorbello is a freelance reporter who specializes in Central Asian affairs.