Russia needs to be completely prepared for serious social and economic consequences caused by global warming, because around 70% of the country’s land is vulnerable permafrost, President Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday.
Speaking at his annual ‘Direct Line’ call-in show, he also suggested that climate change is affecting Russia faster than many other countries in the world.
The far north of the country will feel the consequences of climate change the most, he added.
“We have settlements and infrastructure located [in the north],” Putin explained. “And if all [the permafrost] melts, it will lead to very serious social and economic consequences. And we should certainly be prepared for this.”
The president also named climate change as a cause for the extreme changes in weather in recent months, including wildfires in Siberia and flooding in Crimea.
“Many people believe, not without reason, that this is primarily due to human activity and due to emissions into the atmosphere,” he explained. “We must do everything to minimize our contribution.”
“What we can influence, we should influence,” Putin emphasized.
Other nations on Russia’s latitude, such as the Scandinavian countries, are also suffering from the serious consequences of global warming, he said.
The latest comments aren’t the first time Putin has discussed the risks global warming pose to Russia. Speaking last year to the Valdai Club think tank, he called for an end to “unrestrained and unlimited consumption,” noting that tensions regarding climate change had “reached a critical point.”
“It affects pipeline systems, residential districts built on permafrost, and so on,” Putin explained. “If as much as 25% of the near-surface layers of permafrost – which is about three or four meters – melts by 2100, we will feel the effect very strongly.”
Earlier this year, Putin revealed that the government would force industries to adapt to global warming, with the authorities being instructed to establish strict controls in the fight against harmful emissions.
“We must respond to the challenges of climate change, adapt agriculture, industry, utilities, the entire infrastructure,” Putin urged. “[We must] create an industry to recycle carbon emissions, achieve a reduction in their volume and introduce strict control and monitoring.”
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