Climate change in Russia
Climate change in Russia describes the global warming related issues in Russia. This includes climate politics, contribution to global warming and the influence of global warming on Russia. In 2009 Russia was ready to reduce emissions 20–25% from its 1990 emission levels by the year 2020.
When Russia underlined the Kyoto protocol it came in force 16.2-2005. Russia ratified the agreement three months earlier. This agreement did not cause emission cuts for Russia due to an earlier drop in emissions compared to year 1990 for other reasons.
Six G8 countries would have been ready for the agreement to “at least halve global CO2 emissions by 2050” in 2007. Russia and the United States did not agree.
Effects of climate change on Russia
According to IPCC (2007) climate change effected temperature increase is greater at higher northern latitudes. The temperature increases may effect e.g. agricultural and forestry management at Northern Hemisphere higher latitudes, such as earlier spring planting of crops, higher frequency of wildfires, alterations in disturbance of forests due to pests, increased health risks due to heat-waves, changes in infectious diseases and allergenic pollen and changes to human activities in the Arctic, e.g. hunting and travel over snow and ice. From 1900 to 2005, precipitation increased in northern Europe and northern and central Asia. Changes may affect inland flash floods, more frequent coastal flooding and increased erosion, reduced snow cover and species losses.
Permafrost thawing may be a serious cause for concern. It is believed that carbon storage in permafrost globally is in the region of 1600 Gt equivalent to twice the atmospheric pool. Protecting peatlands from drainage and clearance slows down the rate of greenhouse gases and gives benefits for biodiversity. Permafrost is soil that has been frozen for two or more years. In most arctic areas it is from a few to several hundred metres thick. Thawing of permafrost soils releases methane. Methane has 25 times the warming potential of carbon dioxide. Recent methane emissions of the world’s soils were estimated between 150 and 250 million metric tons (2008) Estimated annual net methane emission rates at the end of the 20th century for the northern region was 51 million metric tons. Net methane emissions from permafrost regions north included 64% from Russia, 11% from Canada and 7% from Alaska (2004). The business-as-usual scenarios estimate the Arctic methane emissions from permafrost thawing and rising temperatures to range from 54 to 105 million metric tons of methane per year (2006).
According to IPCC higher temperatures may increase the frequency of wildfires. In Russia this includes the risk of peatland fires. Peat fire emissions may be more harmful for human health than forest fires. Scientists alarmed by the peatfires in Indonesia in 2004 concluded that “burning peat could be a major contributor to the as yet unexplained accelerating build-up of CO2 in the atmosphere since 1998.” In October 2004 in Borneo regionally the atmosphere was covered in thick smoke, visibility was 100 metres, schools shut and flights were cancelled. According to Wetlands International the wild fires in Moscow July 2010 were mainly 80–90% from dewatered peatlands. According to UN dewatered bogs cause 6% of human global warming emissions. Moscow air was filled with peat fire emissions in July 2010 and regionally visibility was below 300 metres.
Russia was the fifth top emitter of all greenhouse gas emissions including building and deforestation in 2005: China 16.4%, US: 15.7%, 3. Brazil 6.5%, 4. Indonesia 4.6%, 5. Russia 4.6%, 6. India 4.2%, 7. Japan 3.1%, 8. Germany 2.3%, 9. Canada 1.8%, and 10. Mexico:1.6%.
In the cumulative emissions between 1850 and 2007 the top emitters were: 1. US 28.8%, 2. China: 9.0%, 3. Russia: 8.0%, 4. Germany 6.9%, 5. UK 5.8%, 6. Japan: 3.9%, 7. France: 2.8%, 8. India 2.4%, 9. Canada: 2.2% and 10. Ukraine 2.2%.
Energy: Peat, oil shale and coal
Peat is often a more harmful energy source than coal for global warming. Peat burning has been used as an energy source in Russia. In 2005 peat-based energy production was 8% of the total energy production in Russia.
Russia has also used oil shale for energy.
Russia produced, used and imported coal in 2008. In addition to the environmental and human health issues from harmful emissions of coal, coal mining was also dangerous work in Russia in 2008. Serious accidents have been reported. According to IEA the share of coal and peat electricity was 19% of the gross electricity production in 2008 in Russia (187 TWh / 1,038 TWh).
According to FAO (2007) more than half of the world forests are in five countries: Russia, Brazil, Canada, US and China. 2/3 of world forests are in 10 countries: Russia, Brazil, Canada, US, China, Australia, Kongo[clarification needed], Indonesia, Peru and India. Russian challenges for forests include control of illegal logging, corruption, forest fires and land use.
- Ilmastonmuutoksesta Venäjän energiayhtiöille miljardikulut yle 21 November 2009
- Tim Flannary, Ilmastonmuuttajat, Otava 2006 page 230 (The Weather Makers, The History and Future of Climate Change 2005)
- UNEP Year Book2008, An Overview of Our Changing Environment, United Nations Environment Programme 2008 pages 2
- IPCC Working group III fourth assessment report, Summary for Policymakers 2007
- The Natural Fix?: The Role of Ecosystems in Climate Mitigation UNEP 2009 page. 20, 55
- Year Book2008, An Overview of Our Changing Environment, United Nations Environment Programme 2008 pages 38–41
- Massive peat burn is speeding climate change, New Scientist 6 November 2004, Fred Pearce
- turvesuot liekeissä talveen asti yle 12.8.2010
- Venäjän metsäpalot tukaloittavat moskovalaisten elämää yle 26 July 2010
- Which nations are most responsible for climate change? Guardian 21 April 2011
- Jyri Seppälä, Kaisu Aapala, Kimmo Silvo and Raimo Heikkilä 2008: Muistio Suomen IPCC-ryhmän avoimesta Turpeen ilmastovaikutusten arviointi -seminaarista. Suomen ympäristökeskus (Finnish)
- International production of peat 2005, by country, Swedish statistics, Source: U.S. Geological Survey, Peat 2005, Minerals Yearbook
- IEA Key stats 2010 pages electricity 27 fossil 25
- Jari Lyytimäki ja Harri Hakala, Ympäristön tila ja suojelu Suomessa, Gaudeamus, 2008, pages. 198, 189 (Finnish)