Russia unveils plan to adapt to climate change

A woman walks in the Izmailovsky park in Moscow on January 5, 2020. Climate change poses risks to public health, endangers permafrost, increases the likelihood of infections and natural disasters. (AFP)
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Updated 06 January 2020

Russia unveils plan to adapt to climate change

  • Russia is warming 2.5 times quicker than the planet on average

MOSCOW: The Russian government has published a plan to adapt the economy and population to climate change, aiming to mitigate damage but also “use the advantages” of warmer temperatures.

The document, published on the government website on Saturday, outlines a plan of action and admits that changes in the climate have had a “prominent and increasing effect” on socioeconomic development, people’s lives, health and industry.

Russia is warming 2.5 times quicker than the planet on average, and the two-year “first stage” plan is an indication that the government officially recognizes this as a problem, even though President Vladimir Putin denies that human activity is the cause.

It lists preventive measures such as dam building or switching to more drought-resistant crops, as well as crisis preparations including emergency vaccinations or evacuations in case of a disaster.

The plan is needed to “lower the losses and use the advantages.”

It says climate change poses risks to public health, endangers permafrost, increases the likelihood of infections and natural disasters. It also can lead to different species being pushed out of their usual habitats.

Possible “positive” effects are decreased energy use in cold regions, expanding agricultural areas and navigational opportunities in the Arctic Ocean.

The document lays the groundwork for various agencies and stresses the need for more research on economic vulnerabilities, without detailing financing.

Among a list of 30 measures, the government will calculate 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.

Russia is one of the most vulnerable countries to climate change, with vast Arctic regions and infrastructure built over permafrost. Recent floods and wildfires have been among the planet’s worst climate-related disasters.

Russia formally adopted the Paris climate accord in September of last year and criticized the US withdrawal from the pact.

Putin, however, has repeatedly denied the scientific consensus that climate change is primarily caused by man-made emissions, blaming it last month on some “processes in the universe.”

He has also criticized Swedish climate campaigner Greta Thunberg, painting her as an uninformed impressionable teenager possibly being “used” in someone’s interests.

He also voiced skepticism on numerous occasions about solar and wind energy, expressing alarm about the danger of turbines to birds and worms, causing them to “come out of the ground” by vibrating.

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

On Sunday, Russia’s meteorological service predicted temperatures up to 16 degrees Celsius higher than normal Monday and Tuesday, when Russia celebrates Orthodox Christmas.

“Weather on Christmas will be warmer than normal almost on the entire Russian territory,” it said on its website.

The service said temperatures were expected to be four to eight degrees higher than normal in the European part of the country, and 10 to 16 degrees higher beyond the Urals.


WEEKLY ENERGY RECAP: Saudi Arabia, the most reliable supplier of oil and soon gas

Updated 55 sec ago

WEEKLY ENERGY RECAP: Saudi Arabia, the most reliable supplier of oil and soon gas

  • The development of the gas sector comes as the Kingdom seeks to diversify its economy

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia already has one of the world’s largest proven reserves of conventional gas of about 300 trillion cubic feet. There are also unconventional gas reserves, with estimated reserves of more than 600 trillion cubic feet.

The development of the giant Jafurah gas field in the eastern region of Saudi Arabia will catapult the Kingdom to the forefront of gas producers in the world.

According to the United States Energy Information Administration (EIA), the US is ranked 4th globally with gas reserves of 464 trillion cubic feet. This was before the discovery of the Jafurah gas field that will add 200 trillion cubic feet to the already proven 300 trillion cubic feet of gas reserves in the Kingdom, bringing the grans total to around 500 trillion cubic feet.

So this means Saudi Arabia will overtake the US in the list of countries with the biggest gas reserves.

Moreover, the giant Jafurah gas field is located near existing export facilities which will make its delivery to customers much quicker and easier — a benefit not shared by many of the other recent gas discoveries worldwide.

While Russia still holds the world’s largest natural gas reserves, Russian gas is delivered mostly to Europe via pipeline, and does not benefit from extensive LNG infrastructure that would allow the gas to be exported by ship worldwide to various destinations.

The development of the gas sector comes as the Kingdom seeks to diversify its economy and reduce its reliance on crude oil sales. It will help to power the next generation power and desalination plants while also providing the feedstock for the petrochemicals sector that converts ethane to ethylene.

Even before this latest discovery, gas has been playing a progressively more important role in the Kingdom’s economy.

In fact it has expanded to account for almost 57 percent of the Kingdom’s energy mix, and the goal is to reach 75 percent by 2030.

Already the world’s largest and most reliable oil exporter, the Kingdom will now be able to add gas to that claim.