Russian citizens give recommendations to politicians in the run-up to international climate negotiations


On 26 September, the Climate Secretariat of the Russian Socio-Ecological Union and Friends of the Baltic NGO held the Day of Public Consultations on Climate Change in St.Petersburg, Russia. During the day, a hundred of people of different ages, occupations, social status and education level expressed their opinions on the issues of the climate change, the international climate negotiations, and voiced out their recommendations on these issues to politicians.
The citizens’ recommendations that Russia, along with other countries, must take commitments on cuts of GHG emissions and on contributions in international measures for climate change adaptation will be delivered to the official delegation of the Russian Federation at the international climate negotiations.
This unique action was a part of the International Day of Public Consultations on Climate Change within the World Wide Views on Global Warming international project initiated by Danish Board of Technology. In December 2009, Denmark will host the UN summit on climate change which is supposed to result in the agreement on actions and commitments concerning climate change mitigation and adaptation. Therefore, many Danish organizations feel their responsibilities and initiate activities to support international climate negotiations.
The citizens who took part in the public consultations are concerned with basic issues, such as the influence of climate change on their daily lives, the economic situation in the country, possibility for work and leisure and what health risks can be expected in the near future. Already today we see climate changes in the North-West Russia. Warmer winters result in soaking fruit plants, higher activity of plant pests that do not freeze out and become very active during the next season, destroying the harvests. Some bears do not go into hibernation due to warmer winters, thus becoming dangerous being in search for food.
Lev Karlin, the rector of the Russian State Hydrometeorological University, presented the Assessment Report by the Federal Service for Hydrometeorology and Environmental Monitoring on climate change and its effects on the territory of the Russian Federation. The report provides data on already recorded changes and their forecasts. (линк на http://climate2008.igce.ru/v2008/htm/index00.htm) For example, the number of extreme weather events such as hurricanes, floods and droughts has increased threefold in the last 20 years. Melting of polar ice and permafrost is now in full effect. The permafrost margin will retreat by several kilometres annually. This implies risks of building destruction, intensification of methane release from the soil, and alteration of traditional northern economies. On the whole, conditions for agriculture will become less favourable in the European part of Russia.
In many other countries, the effects of climate change will be far more extreme. Climate changes in such countries will have consequences for others, as increased tension due to water and food shortages will lead to local and international conflicts and social migration. Along with migration of animal species and microorganisms, this will intensify negative effects all over the world. Therefore, all countries shall take commitments on climate change mitigation and adaptation.
The developed countries with high energy consumption are most responsible for man-made climate change, since one of the main sources of greenhouse gases that cause global warming is burning of fossil fuels such as coal, oil and gas. Russia is the 3rd world biggest emitter of carbon dioxide, the main contributor to climate change. Our country has great emissions reduction potential, since energy losses only at the stages of energy transfer and consumption are over 40%. Transition to energy-efficient economy will mean not only emissions cuts, but increased competitiveness of the Russian economy. Russian NGOs call for emissions reduction commitments by 25% until 2020. Mechanisms of emissions reduction in 2008-2012 set by the Kyoto protocol have not been put to work in Russia yet. Further delay may cause heavy consequences for many countries and peoples.
The opinions of Russian participants of the Day of Public Consultations on Climate Change, as well as of citizens from other countries, can be found at www.wwviews.org. Most of Russian participants spoke in favour of urgent adoption of an international climate treaty that would take the place of the Kyoto Protocol. St.Petersburg residents suggested that the developed countries take the main financial burden for global emissions reduction, while the poor countries receive aid in the form of technologies and subsidies for adaptation to climate change. The new treaty should establish an international body responsible for collection and distribution of financial aid for emissions reduction and adaptation and penalties for the countries that do not participate in climate change mitigation.
Citizens' opinions will be handed over to decision-makers!
The RSEU Climate Secretariat will hand citizens' recommendations over to the Government of Russia and to the official Russian delegation to COP15 in Copenhagen.

Olga Senova

For more information

on the Day of Public Consultations on Climate Change please contact:
rseu.climate@gmail.com, phone +7 921 9117986.
RSEU Climate Secretariat
baltfriends@baltfriends.ru, phone +7 812 3156622
Friends of the Baltic