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New Russia Climate Change Plan Acknowledges Extreme Weather Patterns; Looks To Drought-resistant Crops, Dams To Address Water Challenges

MOSCOW, Russia

The government of Russia has acknowledged that climate change has had a prominent and increasing effect on its economy and population and has released its plan to adapt to such changes.

In a relatively brief 17-page document released January 4, the government outlines a two-year first stage action plan to mitigate damage. The plan also identifies opportunities to take economic advantage of warmer temperatures throughout the country.

Although Russia has signed the 2015 Paris climate agreement, and criticized the United States for withdrawing, Russia's President Vladimir Putin has previously denied scientific consensus on climate change, and environmental activists in Russia have been targeted by authorities.

The plan considers the competitive position of Russian goods in global markets in the absence of meeting new climate-related standards, also stating that new curricula are being prepared to teach climate change in schools. Crisis prevention measures being considered are both short and long-term in nature: stock piling vaccinations and developing evacuation plans to meet acute disaster needs as well as dam construction and utilization of drought-resistant crops to address longer-term solutions to water challenges.

Russia’s average annual temperature has increased 2.5 times more rapidly than the average global air temperature, making the country extremely vulnerable to climate change. The effect of this warming has led to melting permafrost, more frequent flooding and fires. The country’s meteorological office reported that 2019 was the hottest on record and there were massive wildfires in Siberia.

The report cites climate change as posing a threat to public health and natural resources and identifies some risks associated with a likely increase in infection and natural disaster. The cycle of more and frequent droughts, extreme precipitation, increased fire and displacement of animal and human populations is addressed.

However, the government sees opportunity in longer and warmer periods: lower energy consumption and an expansion of agriculture. In addition, the report suggests increased navigation on the Arctic Ocean in the wake of shrinking ice flows.

The document provides information and direction for various agencies and stresses the need for more research on economic vulnerabilities, without detailing financing.

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