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The Government of the Russian Federation has approved The Initial National Adaptation Plan for Climate Change
09 january 2020
The document defines federal organizational and regulatory measures for 2020-2022, the procedure for developing sectoral and regional plans, as well as information and research support of the activities. The objective for the following three years is to get an understanding of the situation and proceed to the second adaptation phase, i.e. the specific measures in various sectors of the economy, forestry, agriculture, nature conservation and public health.
The plan envisages the creation of appropriate federal level legal structure, development of sectoral plans by the end of 2021, and a wide range of activities for information and scientific support of work.
“The document is vital and timely; it is both the imperative of our times, since the number of dangerous meteorological phenomena has doubled in Russia over the past 15-20 years, and the demand of science,” said Dr. Alexey Kokorin, head of Climate and Energy Program at WWF. "The works of Russian researchers and the latest international reports with their participation make it obvious that the human role is central to the climate change in the 21st century. And if it is so, it will not work by itself, we need to adapt seriously and for a long time.”
The introductory part of the plan lists the key negative consequences of the expected climate change for Russia: health risks, the risk of worse and more frequent droughts, extreme rainfall and floods, increased fire hazard of forests, permafrost degradation, disturbed ecological balance with some species crowded out by others, and air conditioning energy consumption. Some positive factors have also been noted: heating savings, improved conditions for ship passage in the Arctic seas, better agricultural conditions in a number of regions, and increased forest productivity.
“The document rightly points out the negative consequences and positive effects, which, however, only might happen,” said Dr. Alexey Kokorin. "The negative ones act on their own and, as we can see, are already overwhelming, while taking advantage of the positive ones requires some skill, as there are also a lot of pitfalls and backlash. Such as the climate change caused increase in forest growth, which should not come to naught due to fires and environmentally incompetent logging.”
WWF-Russia commends the plan and notes the fundamental importance of the strictly scientific approach to the issue. The plan is praised for envisaging the preparation by the end of 2022 of the Third Assessment Report on Climate Change and its Consequences in the Russian Federation, that should feature vulnerability assessments and adaptation scenarios. The report should become the scientific basis for the second phase in 2023-2025 as well as for the future.
At the same time, WWF emphasizes that there is a limit to what the nature in Russia and its people can adapt to. We must not forget about the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, especially in the energy sector, as well as the protection of our forests, aimed at preserving their still high ability to absorb CO2.
WWF-Russia already has experience in analyzing climate change and making predictions when creating specially protected natural areas (PAs) in the Arctic regions of Russia. The development of a comprehensive Environmental Management Sectoral Adaptation Plan should be completed in just two years and its implementation is expected to entail due consideration of the adaptation issues when creating protected areas. WWF-Russia also has practical experience in climate change education and awareness, which can help the Russian Ministry of Education and Ministry of Science to include, as envisaged by the plan, the knowledge on climate change and adaptation of people and the economy into the curriculum of the general and secondary vocational education.
The subjects of the Federation are encouraged to establish climate change adaptation activities and approve regional plans in 2022. They have to send annual reports on the implementation of measures to the Ministry of Economic Development of Russia. It is envisaged that the Ministry of Natural Resources of Russia, the Russian meteorological service and other departments will have developed a Model Climate Safety Certificate for a Subject of the Russian Federation by the end of 2020.
“It was this step, the preparation of a model climate safety certificate that began WWF-Russia's analysis of climate problems and adaptation 20 years ago; they made certificates for the Altai-Sayan ecoregion, Taimyr, Kola Peninsula and Chukotka. Back then, this initiative did not receive state support, but it has now become a reality,” added Dr. Alexey Kokorin.
“Though the fact that the plan was approved immediately after Russia had adopted the Paris Agreement is a coincidence, since the agreement does not require the plan, it can be seen as symbolic,” said Dr. Alexey Kokorin. “This characterizes the growing understanding of the climate problems, their gravity and the fact that they are here to stay, so we do need to act.”
Photo in the preview and caption by: (c) Mikhail Bragin / WWF-Russia.