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Russia Sets Adaptation Agenda, Plans to ‘Use the Advantages’ of Changing Climate

Russia is planning to “use the advantages” of a changing climate at the same time that it adapts its economy and populations to climate impacts, according to a government document posted last weekend.

“Russia is warming 2.5 times faster than the planet as a whole, on average, and the two-year ‘first stage’ plan is an indication the government officially recognizes this as a problem, even though [Russian President] Vladimir Putin denies human activity is the cause,” Agence France-Presse reports. The document “acknowledges changes to the climate are having a ‘prominent and increasing effect’ on socio-economic development, people’s lives, health, and industry.”

It lists preventive measures like dam building and a switch to more drought-resistant crops, crisis preparations like emergency vaccinations and evacuations, and risks to public health, permafrost, and biodiversity. “Among a list of 30 measures, the government will calculate the risks of Russian products becoming uncompetitive and failing to meet new climate-related standards, as well as prepare new educational materials to teach climate change in schools,” the news agency writes.

The government’s list of possible “positive” climate impacts include decreased energy use in colder regions, more land available for agriculture, and new navigation routes in the Arctic Ocean.

AFP notes that Putin “has repeatedly denied the scientific consensus that climate change is primarily caused by emissions deriving from human activity, blaming it last month on some ‘processes in the universe’”. He has criticized #FridaysforFuture founder Greta Thunberg as an uninformed, impressionable teenager and “voiced skepticism on numerous occasions about solar and wind energy, expressing alarm about the dangers of turbines to birds and worms, causing them to ‘come out of the ground’ by vibrating,” the news agency adds. 

“While there is evidence that large wind power installations can pose a risk to birds, known research does not suggest they harm worms.”