Climate change in Russia: what will the weather be like in the future and what should we do about it?

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Climate change in Russia: what will the weather be like in the future and what should we do about it?
Climate change in Russia: what will the weather be like in the future and what should we do about it?

In St. Petersburg today it is so hot that the water temperature in the Gulf of Finland at night is warmer than the air temperature - as much as 26 ° C. Now swimming is like taking cover in a warm blanket in a thirty-degree heat. Moscow, as always, is slightly ahead of the Northern capital - the orange level of weather danger has already been declared there. This means that the weather is so dangerous that there is the potential for natural disasters and serious damage. In fact, such extreme weather is observed from time to time - for example, St. Petersburg recently broke the record of 116 years ago, and Moscow is as hot as it was today 85 years ago. And all would be fine, only the current temperature records are a very alarming signal and indicate the rapid climate change caused by human activities. It is hardly worth surprising - for the first time in the history of our planet, there are so many people that our daily activities significantly affect it. But if the situation is really critical, as the scientific community claims, then what should we do about it?

What is the state of the planet's climate?

To date, evidence that the Earth's climate is becoming increasingly unstable comes from the body of scientific research, as well as reports from the United Nations International Panel on Climate Change (MEEC). Taken together, this data paints a disturbing picture. Here's what scientists write about her in a climate emergency statement published in BioScience in 2019:

“We declare clearly and unambiguously that planet Earth is facing a climate emergency. To ensure a sustainable future, we must change our way of life. This entails major changes in the way our society functions and interacts with natural ecosystems,”- said in a statement.

The reality is that the climate crisis, which scientists warned about back in the 1970s, has indeed arrived and is accelerating so quickly that most researchers did not expect it. "It is more severe than expected and threatens natural ecosystems and the fate of mankind," scientists say.

Climate change brings more and more destruction every year. Now we need to figure out what to do with it.

An increase in the average temperature on Earth will inevitably lead to an increase in weather disasters and extreme events. Fires, droughts, floods, landslides, heat waves - it can be enumerated for a long time, but it hardly makes sense. If this is true and, as most climate models show, the situation is unlikely to change in the near future, then what should we do with all this?

It's time to admit the problem

In order not to be considered unfounded, let's discuss in detail what exactly is happening with the climate using the example of Russia. Yes, yes, this is also full of problems arising from climate change. Moreover, the collected data show that changes in our country are occurring faster than in most countries of the world.

In January 2021, a group of researchers from the Center for Strategic and International Studies published an article claiming that climate change will inevitably change Russia.

First, the researchers write, for Russians, the environment comes first.According to a survey conducted by the independent Levada Center in January 2020, environmental degradation was identified by Russians as the biggest threat to humanity in the 21st century (48%), followed by international terrorism (42%) and war (37%).

The forest fires that swept Siberia in 2020 are a direct consequence of the rapid climate change.

“Of Russia's environmental problems, respondents considered air pollution to be the most important factor setting new records for hazardous air quality in the country, in part due to forest fires and industrial pollution,” the paper says.

However, another Ipsos poll conducted a little earlier showed that only 13% of Russians consider the climate the most important environmental problem facing their country. And this, by the way, is significantly lower than the world average, and by as much as 37%.

Russians are also not overly concerned about future energy sources, and in recent elections, pro-government climate change policymakers received the least support.

Climate change in Russia

First, climate change in Russia is happening faster than the world average: the growth rate of the average annual air temperature in Russia in 1976-2019 averaged 0.47 ° C over ten years. This exceeds the growth rate of global temperature over the same period by more than 2.5 times.

Secondly, the weather. I think it's not a secret for anyone that 2020 was the hottest year on record: Arctic ice is melting at an astonishing rate, like permafrost. At the same time, floods and forest fires devastate Siberia.

Forest fires devastate Siberia, which is what scientists from all over the world are extremely concerned about.

German physicist Anders Levermann urges Russians to join the fight against climate change. He notes that what is happening in Siberia today is of particular concern. “We do not understand what is happening in Siberia at the moment. This is something new,”says Leverman, Research Fellow at the Potsdam Institute for the Study of Climate Change (PIK).

The physicist notes that abnormal heat often occurs in Siberia in summer, and this is no secret to anyone. Moreover, we also know that global warming in arctic latitudes is faster than elsewhere.

“However, the average temperature, which is 7 degrees higher than usual for the corresponding season, has been holding in the huge Siberian region for six whole months! Here's what we don't understand: why is it taking so long? This is a new climatic phenomenon that needs to be studied."

Given the rise in extreme weather events, last year the Russian government finally acknowledged that climate change poses a serious threat to Russia's future and has developed appropriate action plans. Still, climate decisions are reluctant, which is not surprising. After all, the Russian economy is heavily dependent on the export of fossil fuels. And this, obviously, does not contribute in any way to solving the problems caused by global warming. But what, then, needs to be done to make the fight against climate change effective?

Russia ranks fourth in the world in terms of CO2 emissions into the atmosphere.

Combating climate change in Russia

Russia is the fourth largest emitter of greenhouse gases in the world - after China, the United States and India - which accounts for about 4.6% of all global emissions. What's more, India's per capita emissions are among the highest in the world - 53% higher than China and 79% higher than the EU, albeit 25% lower than the US.

In 2020, our country finally ratified the Paris Agreement, the main goal of which is to prevent the global temperature from rising by 2% above the pre-industrial level.However, according to its nationally determined contributions, Russia is not obligated to cut emissions from current levels or adopt a long-term strategy to reduce carbon emissions.

"This is due to the fact that under the agreement, Moscow has pledged to reduce emissions by 25-30% compared to 1990 levels, but it has been well below these levels since the collapse of the Soviet Union and its industrial production in 1991."

The Paris Climate Agreement sets as its main goal to prevent an increase in the average temperature on the planet by more than 1.5 Celsius.

For this reason, many environmental NGOs call Russia's climate policy one of the worst in the world. “If all countries followed Moscow’s approach, global warming would exceed 4 ° C, with catastrophic consequences for the planet,” the researchers say.

What to do?

In January of this year, the government finally published a National Action Plan, which recognized climate change as a serious threat to the country's population and economy and outlined 29 adaptation measures to be taken by 2022.

The plan cites scientists admitting that average temperatures in Russia are rising and that much of the country is particularly vulnerable to adverse weather conditions. It calls on ministries and regional governments to develop adaptation plans and prepare for increased threats, including droughts, floods, disease and economic costs.

Interestingly, the plan lists possible economic benefits for Russia from climate change that need to be exploited, such as increased access along the Northern Sea Route due to melting ice and increased acreage for agriculture and livestock.

Extreme heat over Russia.

So do not despair - after all, the more informed citizens are about the climate change problem, the more chances that the government will listen to them.

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