Climate change and natural disasters. A challenge for Russian policymakers


  • Roger Roffey

Publish date: 2014-10-01

Report number: FOI-R--3874--SE

Pages: 100

Written in: English


  • Climate change
  • natural disaster
  • technological incidents
  • greenhouse gases
  • methane
  • Arctic sea ice
  • permafrost
  • Roshydromet
  • Ministry of
  • Emergencies
  • Emercom
  • Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment
  • climate doctrine
  • northern Russia
  • Arctic zone.


There have been a number of serious natural disasters, such as floods or major forest fires, in Russia in recent years. The frequency and intensity of large-scale natural and technological incidents linked to extreme weather events have increased in the past ten years and will continue to increase. This is probably due to climate change. The impact of future climate change on Russia is reviewed and discussed. The climate of northern Russia, including the Arctic region, is changing rapidly, to the extent that 'dangerous' climate change might already be occurring. The rate of climate change and the decrease in the Arctic sea ice could now be faster than the rate at which ecosystems can adapt naturally. The air temperature in northern Russia is expected to increase by roughly twice the global rate and climate projections indicate substantial loss of permafrost by 2100. The increased thawing of permafrost will weaken the capacity of the ground to bear buildings, roads, railways and pipelines. In addition, the security environment in the Arctic is changing due to the rapid melting of sea ice, one consequence of can be an increased presence of the Russian Armed Forces in the Arctic region. Russia's role in the international climate negotiations has been limited to ratifying the Kyoto Protocol. The aim has been mainly to achieve diplomatic or domestic policy gains in other policy areas instead of a constructive solution to international climate change issues. There is a climate doctrine in place, but its implementation is not actively pursued. Mitigation and adaptation policies are not well developed and Russia's efforts lag behind most other countries. Scepticism about climate change is still widespread in Russia, as well as the view that climate change will have mainly positive effects for Russia. There are no signs that current policies on climate change will change in the near future.