Research Study: “ The 1st and 2nd Assessment Reports on Climate Change and its Consequences in the Russian Federation,” Russian Academy of Sciences (2008) (2014)
At the beginning of this century, the problem of climate change was not considered properly in Russia. In general, the progressive part of its population was aware of the climate change issues and international research conclusions; however, in most cases these issues were regarded as something happening far away and not nearby, being not crucial and even not that significant. Nowadays, the community and the politicians are changing their minds, starting to understand that consequences of climate changes occurring right “in our yard” and requiring immediate attention.
This growing awareness has not happened all at once and is the result of the long and serious work of environmental scientists and various organizations that undertook efforts to increase public awareness of climate change. There also have been many research and analytical studies related to climate changes issues, perhaps the most important being, “The Assessment Report on Climate Change and its Consequences in the Russian Federation.”
This 2008 Russian Academy of Sciences Report was based on the input of Russian scientists to the regular assessment reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). In addition, it included much wider coverage of the national climate change trends and climate change forecasts for the regions of Russia.
The first Assessment Report of 2008 was accepted well and gave a boost to climate change related work at the governmental level. It was used as a basis for the Climate Doctrine of the Russian Federation approved by the President of the Russian Federation on December 17, 2009. This document provided the main direction for the development of legal, economic, and other tools for protection of the state, economy, and society against consequences of climate change. As a direct and immediate result, the Climate Doctrine Implementation Plan was prepared in 2011, following several federal, regional, and sector-specific action plans.
The second Assessment Report, with improved and enhanced content, was issued in 2014. It confirmed that climate change is a nation-wide problem. It revealed negative trends in the Russian climate. For example, since the mid-1970s average annual air temperature in the Russian Federation has increased. The 2nd Report documented the impact of climate change in other areas such as the hydrological cycle, precipitation amounts, ice coverage, and frequency and scale of extreme weather events. It revealed that the ice cover for seas, islands, and mountains is diminishing, while annual river run-offs are increasing.
The study described how changes in the climate of the Arctic region and subarctic zone of permafrost have become particularly significant as permafrost conditions exist on two thirds of Russia’s territory. Higher temperatures of the permafrost means increased risks to the reliability of the facilities and infrastructure on the affected areas. General warming of the climate can lead to the possible decrease in energy consumption for heating in winter. However, warmer summers as well as extreme weather events require extra energy for compensating the ambient temperature deviations via cooling and heating as required. The extreme events also include periods of droughts and floods with unpredictable occurrence and frequency but with a larger scale and area coverage.
Changes in climate conditions within the country also have an impact on public health as the extreme temperature events result in higher morbidity and mortality, especially within the health risk groups and in the degradation of air quality due to both adverse weather conditions and forest and peat fires. Due to the changes in climate zones, the areas where epidemic diseases will spread, will in most cases, increase.
Therefore, the ongoing climate change in Russia is a matter of a serious concern since its impact on natural and economic systems, as well as on the population, is becoming more and more evident. The Academy of Sciences Assessment Reports are published as official documents and their findings have been widely disseminated. As a result, there is continued increased awareness of the need for urgent and effective measures aimed at mitigation of the impact of climate change on economic activities.
The second Assessment report consists of three parts: the main report, the general summary and the technical summary. This report structure was developed in order to increase the report usefulness for different stakeholders: the government and authorities, scientific and educational institutions, professional analysts and practitioners, the business community and non-governmental organizations. The information from the Assessment Report of 2014 is going to be used for the preparation of the state long-term Strategy for Low Carbon Development and National Climate Adaptation Plan.
1) The Assessment report of 2014 is available online in English and Russian:
2) One of the most comprehensive research works on estimation of the carbon absorption capacity of the Russian forests is titled, “The Russian Federation Forest Sector. Outlook Study To 2030,” by Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, in Russian via link http://www.fao.org/docrep/016/i3020r/i3020r00.pdf and in English at http://www.fao.org/3/a-i3020e.pdf
3) Analytical publications on the climate change issues in Russia in the framework of the Climate Program of WWF both in Russian and English: http://wwf.ru/about/what_we_do/climate
4) Analytical publications on the climate change and energy efficiency by Center for Energy Efficiency both in Russian and English: http://www.cenef.ru/art_11212_119_node2.html