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Russia Unveils Plan to 'Use the Advantages' of Climate Change
By Michaela Cavanagh (with AFP)
The Russian government has unveiled a plan to adapt the country's economy and population to climate change.
The 17-page document was published online by Russia's Ministry of Economic Development on Saturday, and outlines measures to mitigate the damage caused by climate change as well as to "use the advantages" of warmer temperatures.
It acknowledges that changes in the climate have had "a prominent and increasing effect" on industry, socioeconomic development and the health and well-being of the population.
The two-year scheme covers the first phase of the country's adaptation to climate change until 2022, with the aim to "lower the losses" of global warming.
Climate Threat and Opportunity
Climate change, the report says, poses a threat to public health, endangers permafrost and heightens the likelihood of infections and natural disasters. Russia will likely see longer and more frequent droughts, extreme precipitation and flooding, increased risk of fire as well as the displacement of different species from their habitats, according to the plan.
Expected positive effects of climate change, the plan says, include the reduction of energy consumption during warm periods, shrinking levels of ice which will foster increased access to navigational opportunities in the Arctic Ocean, and expanded agricultural areas.
The plan lists 30 economic and social steps designed to minimize the vulnerability of the Russia's population, economy and natural resources to climate change.
These measures include considerations such as the government's calculation of the risk of Russian products becoming uncompetitive if they fail to meet new climate-related standards, and preparing new educational materials to teach climate change in schools. The list also suggests dam building and shifting to drought-resistant crops, in addition to crisis-preparation measures like offering emergency vaccinations or evacuations in case of a disaster.
Russia on Front Lines of Climate Change
Russia is warming faster than the global average — its average annual air temperature has increased 2.5 times more rapidly than the average global air temperature since the mid-1970s.
The country is one of the world's most vulnerable to climate change, with large Arctic areas and infrastructure that is built on permafrost. In recent years, Russia has experienced flooding and fires, with the massive wildfires in Siberia in 2019 prompting the government to declare an emergency.
Russia experienced its hottest year on record in 2019, according to the country's meteorological office.
Putin Denies Humans Behind Climate Change
Russia formally adopted the 2015 Paris agreement in September last year, and criticized the U.S. for withdrawing from the agreement.
However, President Vladimir Putin has repeatedly denied the scientific consensus that climate change is caused by man-made emissions. Last month, in his year-end press conference, he said "nobody knows the origins of global climate change."
Environmental activists in Russia have been targeted by the authorities, while Putin has also criticized climate campaigner Greta Thunberg, portraying her as an impressionable teenager who can be "used" for someone else's interests.
Tens of thousands of scientists have collated overwhelming amounts of data pointing to the man-made destabilization of Earth's climate system and the importance of limiting current and future greenhouse gas emissions.
Reposted with permission from DW.
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By Ilana Cohen
Four years ago, Jacob Abel cast his first presidential vote for Donald Trump. As a young conservative from Concord, North Carolina, the choice felt natural.
But this November, he plans to cast a "protest vote" for a write-in candidate or abstain from casting a ballot for president. A determining factor in his 180-degree turn? Climate change.
Fractures Among Young Climate Conservatives<p>While young conservatives have united around the urgency of climate change, they remain divided over how to bring their concerns to the ballot box. Some embrace right-wing <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/biden-attacks-republican-convention/2020/08/24/434e5b46-e66d-11ea-970a-64c73a1c2392_story.html" target="_blank">attacks</a> painting Biden as a "tool of the left" and find his climate agenda "radical." Others can't find a way to justify voting for Trump, even if it means breaking with their party.</p><p>Patrick Mann from Orange County, California, voted for Trump in 2016. But today, he's leading Aggies for Joe at Texas A&M University and is co-founder of Texas Students for Biden. </p><p>Mann grew up watching wildfires ravage his home state, nearly forcing his family to evacuate in 2017. The GOP is failing to "meet the moment" for climate action, Mann said. He's hoping Biden will deliver on a promise to "<a href="https://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/opinion/columnists/caucus/2020/01/06/joe-biden-democrat-president-iowa-caucus-restore-soul-our-nation/2806422001/" target="_blank">restore the soul of our nation</a>." </p><p>Taylor Walker from Pensacola, Florida, is also determined to make her voice heard on climate, including by casting her first-ever vote for president—but not for Biden.</p>
A False Equivalency<p>Young climate conservatives may fear climate denial and delayed climate action, but more than that, they fear the growing political momentum around the Green New Deal, the massive spending it entails and <a href="https://joebiden.com/climate-plan/" target="_blank">Biden's citing of it</a> as a "crucial framing for meeting the climate challenges we face."</p><p>Many don't want to split with their party to support a Democrat whose <a href="https://www.npr.org/2019/09/03/757220130/joe-biden-on-bipartisanship-gun-control-and-regrets-over-inaction-after-a-traged" target="_blank">allegedly bipartisan intentions</a> they doubt. If stymieing what they consider a radical green agenda means re-electing a climate change denying president, so be it. </p><p>"I'm scared of climate change, but I'm also scared of the Green New Deal and what it means for America," said Ben Mutolo, a republicEN spokesperson and junior at SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry. </p><p>Mutolo felt encouraged by former Ohio Governor John Kasich's <a href="https://www.rollcall.com/2020/08/17/kasich-speech-to-democratic-convention-follows-years-of-building-conservative-credentials/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">appearance</a> at the Democratic National Convention, but he still struggles to see himself voting for Biden. Though the candidate paints himself as a <a href="https://www.latimes.com/politics/story/2020-08-12/harris-biden-different-generation-similar-political-instinct" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">centrist,</a> Mutolo believes he's "cozying up to the ultra-progressive left." </p><p>Mutolo, who wants to see market-based climate solutions like a carbon tax, feels torn between a candidate whose climate plan relies on taking an "<a href="https://joebiden.com/environmental-justice-plan/#" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">All-of-Government approach</a>," and one with no efforts to reign in global warming at all. <span></span></p><p>Leiserowitz said he appreciated how a conservative might feel Biden's climate plan "doesn't jive with their limited government, free-market approach."</p><p>But he sees a strong distinction between voting for a presidential candidate with a <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/14/us/politics/biden-climate-plan.html" target="_blank">$2 trillion climate plan</a> that includes large renewable energy investments, which have <a href="https://climatecommunication.yale.edu/publications/politics-global-warming-april-2020/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">bipartisan support</a>, and a candidate trying "to take the country in the opposite direction, towards more fossil fuels."</p>
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