World Bank Warns On Climate Change

Russia is likely to bear the brunt of changes to regional climate brought on by global warming, according to a World Bank report presented  Wednesday, and government officials are preparing special measures to deal with the negative effects of climate change.

The country will see the greatest increase in climate extremes over the next 60 years to 80 years among the 28 countries of Eastern Europe and Central Asia, the report said. The effects of climate change will be exacerbated by decrepit infrastructure and the legacy of Soviet resource management, the report said.

Temperature in the region has increased by an average of 0.5 degrees in the south and 1.6 degrees in northern regions like Siberia. In the Arctic, temperatures have been increasing at twice the global average, with ice, tundra and permafrost experiencing the biggest impact. By 2050, the number of frost days will decline by as much as 30 days per year, while the number of hot days will increase by up to 37 days.

Despite Russia’s vulnerability to climate change, Russians are not as concerned about the issue as are people in other countries, the report said. In 2007, only 40 percent of Russians considered climate change a serious issue, compared with 70 percent of Turks, the report cited a Pew poll as showing.

Official rhetoric about climate change has ranged from skepticism to enthusiasm. Prime Minister Vladimir Putin famously said in 2003 that global warming might even benefit Russia.

“For a northern country like Russia, it won’t be that bad if it gets two or three degrees warmer,” since “we would spend less on fur coats” and “our grain production would increase,” he said at a climate change conference in Moscow.

Although conditions for agriculture will improve in Russia, the improved output would only amount to 25 percent of what could be currently gained by increasing efficiency and upgrading infrastructure, the report said.

“Even countries that can benefit from climate change don’t have the resources,” said Rachel Bloc, one of the report’s authors. “The quality of the soil in northern territories is different, and there is no infrastructure there for farming,” she said.

Some government agencies appear to be taking the World Bank’s warning seriously.

The Emergency Situations Ministry is preparing a report for the government about measures needed to prepare for the negative consequences of climate change in the regions that are most vulnerable, said Igor Veselov, deputy head of the ministry’s department for international affairs. “We won’t be asking for money so much as for legislative measures,” he told The Moscow Times, adding that the documents will be sent to the government by the end of this year or the first part of next year.

See also:

Less Fur, More Oil — Why Paris Won't Change Russia's Attitude to Climate Change

UN Chief Asks Medvedev for Support on Libya

Recession Cuts Russia's 2009 Greenhouse Gases

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