Russia in 2021: As Climate Crisis Rages, Scientists Fear the Worst Is Yet to Come

Posted by ProjectC 
'The world’s largest country faces an accelerating emergency as warming weather sparks more environmental disasters with ever more damaging consequences.

Russia came under siege from climate change in 2020, and experts warn that Arctic heatwaves, fires and melting permafrost could be worse this year.

The year began with the warmest winter in 140 years of recorded meteorological data, leaving Moscow — a city usually covered in snow for four months of the year — entirely snow free for the month of February.

In the summer, Siberia suffered its worst ever forest fires, which had burned through an abnormally warm winter to emit in three months roughly as much carbon as Egypt does in a year.


Though climate scientists stress that their discipline is unable to make meteorological predictions with any degree of certainty, all are clear that the trend line for Russia is bleak.

“It is impossible to make any concrete predictions about the year ahead,” said Alexander Kislov, a professor of climatology at Moscow State University.

“However, the trend is clear: Each five year period is warmer than the last, and Russia is warming faster than almost any other country.”


For some in Russia’s environmental community, 2021 is likely to see climate change having an increasingly direct impact on people’s lives.

“Russia has always suffered natural disasters, but we have so far been lucky that they’ve not tended to impact very many people. That will change.” said Roman Pukalov, director of environmental programmes at the Moscow-based NGO Green Patrol.


“They’ve been talking about climate action for a decade now, but nothing is being done in terms of carbonization.”

However, for Alexey Kokorin, of the WWF, shifting geopolitics will compel Russia to take action on climate.

“Biden’s win changes everything,” he said.

“When it was just the European Union pushing for action on climate, Russia could largely ignore it. But Biden will try to build a broad coalition of states that support new climate commitments going beyond the Paris Agreement, bringing in Canada, China, Japan and South Korea. If that happens, Russia will have to fall into line to avoid total diplomatic isolation.”


“With the EU getting tougher on climate standards, it’s possible that large companies that export to the European market, like Severstal and Nornickel, may start investing in conservation and renewable energy projects to lower their carbon footprint and avoid potential climate tariffs. I could even see fossil fuel companies like Gazprom and Rosneft taking this approach.”

For some, there are also green shoots of optimism within Russian society itself.

“I do think ordinary Russians are becoming more conscious of environmental issues, and how their personal choices impact them,” said Green Patrol’s Pukalov, pointing out a huge rise in climate-related activism that is pushing the issue into the mainstream in Russia.”

“The picture is bleak, but there are causes for optimism,” he said.'

- Russia in 2021: As Climate Crisis Rages, Scientists Fear the Worst Is Yet to Come, January 1, 2021


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