Climate problem and opportunities in Russia


Temperatures in Russia are increasing by more than twice the global average, according to scientists, which proves this Climate change and extreme weather don’t just affect US national security as illustrated in Cipher Expert Overview Admiral Jim Stavridis’ Brief Here. It also affects US allies and adversaries, and creates new areas of instability and shifting power dynamics. Russia’s more aggressive presence in the Arctic is a clear sign of the upcoming transformation.

In our ongoing series on climate change and its impact on national security, climate editor Christine Wood takes a look at the impact of climate change on Russia.

Climate change and severe weather will provide Russia with significant opportunities and fundamental challenges to the current Russian way of life, and a transformation is already underway. Russia’s opportunities will expand its capabilities to challenge the national security of the United States and the United States internationally, while its challenges will weaken and possibly overwhelm Moscow’s ability to take advantage of these new opportunities.

As a relatively late-comer and skeptical of the role humans play in climate change, Russia is President Putin Are right The 2015 Paris climate agreement only in late 2019. By January 2020, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev A. National Climate Adaptation Plan Which outlined many of the “potentially positive” changes and ways in which Russia could “use the benefits” of climate change, including improved access to energy stores and increased agricultural production. However, temperatures in Russia are already rising by more than twice the global average, according to the Russian Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment 2018 Report, And the goals of the plan panic Scientists and climate activists because they do little to create meaningful carbon cuts for the world’s fourth largest polluter.

Dr. John Holdren, the former White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) director under President Obama, noted in an interview last month that despite nonsense from Putin and the Russian leadership, the Russian scientific community is in overwhelming agreement on the enormous problem posed by climate change. Human-led over Russia. However, given that the Russian economy is driven by hydrocarbons, it is unlikely that the voices of scientists will be heard and acted upon for many years.

Melting Arctic Ocean

Taking advantage of the opportunities provided by the rapid melting of Arctic ice, Putin has made expanding Russia’s position in the Arctic a top priority. Russia developed the tools and infrastructure it needed to operate in its harsh conditions, leaving Moscow with more than 400 military installations and more than 40 icebreakers to support its presence in the region.

  • Russian dominance in the Arctic and its administrative control of traffic in newly crossed northern shipping routes could increasingly restrict the United States ‘ability to operate freely in the region or access the region, especially given the United States’ lack of its own fleet of icebreakers.
  • Outside the region, the increased navigational capacity in the Arctic has also opened up a new direct route from Russia and China to the United States and Canada, giving new access to North American shores for commercial shipping and a new frontier for maritime operations. The U.S. Army should be able to operate inA whole new ocean“And with new vulnerabilities on the northern border of the United States. These risks are exacerbated by Chinese interests there, as well as Beijing seeks to”Polar Silk RoadIt strives to consolidate its position as a polar power despite its physical distance from the region.
  • In addition to its military expansion in the Arctic, Russia is seeking to consolidate its demands and secure its rights to lands believed to be rich in oil and gas and historically confined under the broad northern ice. As of last December, the Russian Ministry of Development in the Far East and the Russian Arctic expected Moscow to invest in it $ 235 billion In developing the Arctic by 2035 to expand the fleet of icebreakers, ports, oil and gas extraction and production. In the newly adopted Energy Strategy to 2035Russia continues to focus on expanding its domestic production and consumption of fossil fuels, with a strong focus on expanding natural gas exports.
  • At a time when Russia’s ability to maneuver in the Arctic increases, due to melting ice and a growing fleet of icebreakers, it was reported that it was testing Weapons located in the Arctic Including hypersonic cruise missiles and underwater nuclear powered drones. These developments also expose the United States to increased Russian missile capabilities – both conventional and nuclear – in the Arctic.

Permafrost thawing

The benefits of melting the Arctic come with devastating side effects that cannot be overlooked. In addition to flooding, the thawing of permafrost threatens infrastructure across Russia’s northern regions, as ports, roads, pipelines, buildings, nuclear plants and hazardous waste sites are shaken by the sinking and softening of the earth.

Northern rural areas account for about 75 percent of the country’s oil and 95 percent of its natural gas reserves, and infrastructure failures due to thawing permafrost may lead to severe disruptions to Russia’s energy production and export, and thus its economy where more than 20 percent comes from. Of Russia’s GDP. From its north Arctic regionEnergy sector. There are actually around 7,000 accidents annually on major oil and gas pipelines caused by Permafrost thawing. And in May 2020, an Arctic oil reservoir collapsed due to melting permafrost and caused an explosion Spillage of 135 square miles; Such incidents are likely to be common without a commitment to mitigation or stronger adaptation efforts. The infrastructure support requirements and energy operations will be extensive, and they will have to compete with the similar needs of other military and civilian infrastructure.


Meanwhile, Russia’s agricultural production may be the winner. General Warming Trend, Russian Governmental Environmental Group NotesIt expands the country’s arable area, increases productivity, and prolongs the period of vegetation cover in many regions of the country. As a result, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization Projects That Russia – already the world’s largest wheat exporter – could maintain 20 percent of the global wheat market by 2038. If Moscow succeeds in moving farmers and transportation assets to newly arable land, Putin could achieve his goal of becoming a “agricultural superpower” “Moscow is a great geopolitical Positive effect With the increasing food insecurity caused by the climate expected around the world.

The agricultural picture, like the Arctic, also faces challenges. Russia faces increasing threats due to the climate, from bad weather that ranges from increased droughts and wildfires in some areas to heavy rains and floods in others. Such impacts have already surfaced. Last year, a prolonged heatwave in Siberia triggered wildfires covering more than seven million acres and triggering some 50 million tons Carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Perhaps most importantly, droughts and extreme heat are likely to be more severe and cover larger areas. Previous heatwaves and droughts caused major declines in grain production in Russia and raised global grain prices. Just as warming causes shifts in vegetation patterns, it also causes transmission of pests and crops Illness.

As the United States prepares to deal with the consequences of global warming under President Biden, the complications arising from strengthening Russia’s position in the Arctic are the main and central priorities. Although he has done little to prepare for Russia’s consequences, Putin may see advantages in the expected broader global destabilization if climate change is left unchecked. It has long sought to undermine and disrupt governments of other countries for Russian gain, something that climate change does – and as a bonus, is also likely to link Western financial and military resources to relief efforts – without Moscow having to take action. .

The author of this report is Kristen Wood, senior climate editor at The Cipher Brief, expert Cipher Brief, nonresident fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, and a former CIA official.

Mary McMahon contributed research for this report. McMahon is a former CIA analyst on climate change and global energy markets, and is currently completing a master’s degree in public policy at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government, with a focus on energy and climate policy.

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