Climate Change – risks and opportunities

The press conference "Climate Change - new risks and potential possibilities"was held in St. Petersburg INTERFAX agency on the April 7th. The experts presented their comments to the 2nd part of the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The report was submitted in Yokohama, 31st of March 2014. The world's leading climate scientists said to the governments that our society is not prepared for life in the face of rising risks related to the climate change. Now is a time for urgent actions.

Press Conference was organized by Russian Socio-Ecological Union, Friends of the Baltic and Association of Environmental Journalists of St. Petersburg.
Today climate change consequences being felt on all the continents. Along with the positive effects caused by climate warming in the northern regions, there are also negative ones. Negative impacts of climate change, more or less, will affect all: flooding, drought, weather variability, warmer temperatures, problems with drinking water will increase the number of people living in poverty, food shortages, spread of diseases and economical risks. St. Petersburg has its own risks and adaptation needs. Climate adaptation - is an agenda for all countries and regions, for all actors - from politicians to ordinary citizens.

The press conference was attended by Oleg Anisimov, co-author of the second part of the 5th assessment report "Impacts of climate change", a member of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change; Head of Department of climate change studies in the State Hydrological Institute, and theNobel Peace Prize nominee.

According to O. Anisimov, Russia will suffer less than many other countries, but the increase in temperature and the depth of seasonal permafrost thawing represent a serious danger to the infrastructure in our country.

There are significant changes undergoing in the Arctic. Arctic islands and the coast are disappearing with high speed - to 10 km2 per year. For example, in the Laptev Sea from 0.3 to 1.9 meters per year, and in the East Siberian Sea - from 0.3 to 1.6 meters per year. "The temperature in the north area from 65 ° N is growing twice faster than global" - says Oleg.
Certainly, there are positive effects of climate change, such as reduced costs for heat and electricity, but they are not comparable with the negative effects.

The press conference was also attended by Dmitry Frank-Kamenetsky, head of state regulation in the environmental protection of the Committee on Natural Resources, Environmental Protection and Ecological Safety of St. Petersburg, one of the authors of future climate adaptation strategy for St. Petersburg.

According to D. Frank-Kamenetsky, already now we can see the consequences of climate change in St. Petersburg. For example, as a "result of storms in the 2011-coastal zonepart in the Kurortniy region has receded by the 15 meters."

Many countries have already begun to adapt. Finland has developed a national climate policy and climate strategy in Helsinki and Turku. In Estonia in Audru region it is forbidden to build lower than on 3 m above sea level and in Lithuania adaptation measures were included in the technical plan to create a recreational park «Smeltalesparkas». Norway and Germany developed a national climate policy and action plans, each municipality has own climate plan.

IPCC estimated that the minimum cost for the adaptation in developing countries is about USD 100 billion per year - this figure does not account any losses that can’t be represented in monetary terms: cultural heritage, biodiversity and people's lives. The report said: "Estimates of the global adaptation costs are substantially higher than the current financing and investment in adaptation, especially in developing countries, that implies a funding gap and growing shortage of adaptation (medium confidence)." (SPM p14)

In addition, the IPCC experts warn that if we do not take immediate and decisive measures to reduce greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, the situation could deteriorate so much that we will not be able to adapt anymore. Active action right now will save lives in the future and give us a lot of other benefits, such as green jobs and sustainable economy.

Olga Senova, Coordinator of the Russian Socio-Ecological Union Climate Secretariat and Chair person of "Friends of the Baltic" NGO, said at a press conference: "Reducing emissions will not change the situation quickly - but in the long term there is a difference: +2°C or +4°C. Therefore it is necessary to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and energy efficiency is one of the most effective measures».
According to the Center for Energy modernization (for example, for Moscow) 29% of the potential of heat energy consumption reduction, and therefore greenhouse gases reduction, contained in the propaganda. It is primarily concerns energy efficiency measures at the final consumer level (including residential sector, construction, offices, energy management in all sectors).

From November 11th 2014 the Russian Social Ecological Union starts to perform the information campaign "Energy Efficiency is the biggest Russia’ power plant." The campaign covers 20 regions of the Russian Federation and aims to show the possibility for accelerating the implementation of the energy saving and energy efficiency State program for the period up to 2020 and energy resources not yet involved in the various sectors.

This is the first step in a very important direction, reducing the GDP energy intensity. The measures planned within the framework of the state program shall save (by 2020) 1.124 billion toe of primary energy, 330 billion cubic meters of natural gas, 630 billion kWh of electricity, 1550 mln Gcal of heat, and 17 million tons of oil products.

The expected annual saving of electricity within the state program (63 billion kWh) exceeds the total planned annual production of biggest nuclear power plants in Russia (Leningrad and Kursk NPP produce 28 billion kWh per year each) and the capacity of the biggest thermal power station in Russia, the Surgut GRES (up to 39 billion kWh per year).

IPCC report comes six months before the UN climate summit, where world leaders will have to agree on commitments that will form the basis of the new international agreement in 2015.

The Third part of the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report, dedicated to the measures for human impact reduction on climate, will be released this month, after discussion in Berlin and will present scientific data on opportunities for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.