Call for stronger climate policy by Russian climatologists

Måndag, 23. Februari 2009     1 kommentti(a)
Anna Korppoo
forskare - forskningsprogrammet EU:s östra grannskap och Ryssland
Last week the Hydrometeorological Service of Russia (Roshydromet) released a report on the impacts of climate change in the Russian territory. Even though the benefits from global warming for Russia were brought up strongly, it could be argued that the tone of the Russian scientific community –with a long history of climate scepticism– is changing.

As the positive and negative impacts to be expected are well-known the report does not really contain much new information beyond the observations of the impacts by the Russian monitoring system. But what is interesting is that the Russian authors of the report are now supporting the findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that the main cause of the observed global warming is associated with increased human activity. The report also confirms that on the Russian territory more warming has been observed than the world average, and that significant influence on socio-economic activity can be expected. Only less than two years ago (April 2007), one of the authors of the report Professor Yuri Izrael argued that there is no serious threat to the climate.

On the one hand, the report outlines various negative impacts of global warming including the reduction of water resources in the regions where deficits are already occurring, the impacts of the melting permafrost to infrastructure installations, such as houses as well as oil and gas pipelines, the increasing probability of extreme weather events like floods, droughts and forest fires, and the enlargement of the geographical ranges of some human diseases, for instance malaria.

On the other hand, significant positive impacts are also expected. The increasing of farming potential is regarded as significant. The shortening of the heating period is mentioned as one (even though it is recognised in the report that the need –and energy consumption– for air conditioning is likely to increase). Also the favourable influence on the Arctic Sea ice conditions is brought up as a positive impact due to the opening northern sea routes, and use of the Arctic shelf resources.

Even though many of the impacts of global warming are still regarded as positive for Russia, the conclusion of the authors is to call for the Russian government to develop a serious set of domestic mitigation policies and engage in international cooperation as well as to come up with an adaptation plan to prepare the society and the economy to the impacts of climate change, both positive and negative. The Russian press has provided only a limited coverage of the launch of the report but the political aspects of the message were reported, including the positive and negative impacts.

Given the long history of the Russian climate scepticism, which has also influenced the position of the Russian government in the international negotiations, it is a very positive sign that at least in this report the leading Russian climatologists call for mitigation and adaptation action, and thus clearly signal that global warming should be taken seriously as an environmental problem also in Russia.

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Keskustelu (1 kommenttia)

26.2.2009, JuliaDobrolyubova


you are absolutely right, that the Russian climate skepticism, especially of general public, is decreasing. Although, I could hardly agree that such skepticism influences the government position. The Russian Government is well aware of the problem and its urgency, which Dr.Bedritsky, the head of Roshydromet - coordinating body for implementation of the UNFCCC in Russia - underlined lots of times. President of Russia and prime-minister also share this view. Although, the cumbersome bureaucratic governmental system of Russia, when 10 ministries are responsible for climate change and sustainable energy issues, when interagency cooperation is poor, and there is lack of human resources, it is hard to expect prompt and efficient actions to be taken. This is the main reason for apparent inactivity of the Russian government, as far as I am concerned.
Another point is the unprecedented Russian Government's support of the IPCC findings of the human-induced climate change. I would rather disagree. Again, Dr.Bedritsky supports this position and told about this numerous times in interviews and speeches. Besides, the Russian experts, including representatives of Roshydromet scientific institutes, were among the leading authors of the IPCC WG1 to present such a conclusion.

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