Russia at risk from climate change

In two days I found in my RSS feeds two articles on Russia. The first one is about a study from the World Bank stating that this large country is seriously at risk because of climate change.

Indeed global warming will increase the importance of already large climate phenomena such as storms or heat waves. This is bad news for the country as it is already plagued by derelict infrastructure from the soviet era.

The second news concerned the response to this impeding crisis. Like in Australia, the Russian government fails to act enough on climate change.As Bloomberg reported:

Russia is ill-prepared to cope with climate change because of the legacy of Soviet environmental mismanagement and crumbling infrastructure, the World Bank said.

The world’s biggest energy exporter is more exposed to the extremes of an evolving climate than European and Central Asian nations, the Washington-based lender said in a report today. The depth of seasonal melting in areas covered by permafrost may increase by as much as 50 percent by 2050, the bank forecast.

“Poorly constructed, badly maintained, and aging infrastructure and housing — a legacy of both the Soviet era and the transition years — are ill-suited to cope with storms, heat waves, or floods, let alone protect people from such extreme events,” said the study headed by Zeljko Bogetic, the World Bank’s lead economist for Russia.

The more than 180 countries negotiating a new climate- protection treaty are increasingly focusing on how to adapt to higher temperatures, in addition to their goal of reducing greenhouse gases that scientists blame for global warming.

Floods or other “extreme events” can cause far greater damage in Russia than would be the case in other parts of the world, the World Bank report said.

Meanwhile, the WWF noted :

Russia’s announcement to reduce its emissions by 10 to 15 percent by 2020 is disappointing and sets a bad example for other countries who are trying to negotiate a global deal to save the world from dangerous climate change.

On June 19, President Dmitry Medvedev announced a 10 to 15 percent emissions reduction by 2020. With a base year of 1990, where emissions were much higher than today, this really means that the country’s emissions can actually increase by 2 to 2.5 percent per year between now and 2020.

“Russia’s announcement is very disappointing. Today we can officially say that Russia is the weakest link of climate change negotiations,” said Kim Carstensen, the leader of WWF’s Global Climate Initiative.

Russian greenhouse gas emissions have been decreasing constantly since the early 90s, reaching a minimum in 1998 (60 percent from 1990 level).


Edouard is a sustainability and energy professional committed to bringing our societies to a carbon neutral future. He has been writing on related topics on this very blog since 2007.

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1 Response

  1. Tuesday, August 10, 2010

    […] situation is so dire that Russia may soon change its mind on global warming and may now be willing to avert it before it is too late… or is it already the case […]

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