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Climate Change Adaptation on Coastal Areas

A seminar under the title “Climate change – the effects and adaptation: views on the climate change strategies of the federal subjects” took place in St. Petersburg on December 27th 2014. The seminar offered expert views both on the risks and negative effects of the climate change, and on the necessary measures that especially on coastal areas have to be taken to adapt to climate change. Russian Social Ecological Union presented a review of the climate programs in the Russian regions and they had prepared a position paper for the upcoming UN climate change negotiations in Lima.

The seminar was organized by the Friends of the Baltic in cooperation with the Russian Social Ecological Union, with the support of Consulate General of Finland in St. Petersburg, a Norwegian society for nature conservation and Russian-German Environmental Information Bureau. Experts from different Russian regions and representatives from scientific institutions, government agencies and non-governmental organizations gave their presentations in the seminar.

Alexey Kokorin (WWF, Moscow) commented in his presentation on the IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report. The most significant aspect of the report is, that hundreds of leading scientist from different countries verify, that the climate change is really happening, that the climate is becoming less stable and that the number of hazardous hydro-meteorological phenomena will increase. The human activity has substantially intensified the natural greenhouse effect. The scenario of the upcoming changes in the climate, especially from 2050 onwards, depends substantially on the global increase of greenhouse gas emissions. Therefore, the international agreements on emission restrictions and the national programs to bring down the emissions are both important.

Angelina Davydova (Russian-German Environmental Information Bureau) introduced the participants with the results of the UN’s Climate summit that was held in New York in September 2014.

Aleksandr Fedorov (Climate secretariat of the Russian Social Ecological Union) reviewed the impacts of climate change in the Baltic and Barents regions. The scientists have reported, that both the temperature and the salinity of these seawaters is rising, and that the ice coverage has decreased since the mid-20th century. Hazardous hydro-meteorological phenomena, spring floods and other consequences of the climate change will become more frequent and lead to negative social and economic impacts. He presented the foreseeable changes by the years 2030 and 2080 and the recommendations for the primary measures on climate change adaptation.

Anton Pavlovsk (Research and design centre of the General plan of St. Petersburg) presented material about the adaptation to the climate change in Russian cities. Climate change will bring difficulties to the construction sector, control of waterway systems and transportation infrastructure. It threatens the condition of both cultural monuments and living nature. All these different spheres need adaptation measures; norms, technology and management will all have to be reconsidered. For St. Petersburg, the questions concerning the degradation of the coasts of the Gulf of Finland are already essential: at both the northern shores (near Komarovo village) and the southern shores (by Krasnoflotsk) there are areas, where the coastline has retreated more than 10 meters. This means, that on some areas the risk of flooding is higher than before, and a whole set of ways to react and adapt to these risks has to be planned.

Ivan Serebrickiy(Committee for Nature Use, Environmental Protection and Ecological Safety) presented practical recommendations for adaptation to the climate change for the city of St. Peterburg and its surroundings. These recommendations have been developed in the frameworks of the project ClipLivE, which is part of the South-East Finland – Russia ENPI programme, and they form the basis for the ongoing preparation of the St. Peterburg Climate Change Strategy.

In his presentation on environmental legislation concerning climate change adaptation and hydroelectric power stations, Sergey Shapkhaev (East Siberia State University of Technology and Management, Buryat organization for Baikal) presented the research materials on the water ecosystems in Siberia and Russian Far East, which show, that the changes of hydroelectric stations cause in the natural seasonal fluctuations of the water reservoir, have a negative impact on spawning, on the wetlands of the river delta and on the affluents of the water reservoir. The risks of extreme situations are not considered carefully enough in the regulations concerning hydropower, and that has a negative impact on the water and near water ecosystems and also increases the possible risks for human settlements. The necessary adaptation measure for the control systems that regulate water ecosystems is the maximum protection of the natural water systems at the hydropower stations, based on ecological monitoring.

Tatiana Shauro (Friends of the Baltic) presented a review of the climate actions taken by the different federal subjects of Russia. The review is based on a survey that was done by the Russian Social Ecological Union in 2014. The official answers to the questions concerning the implementation of the Climate Doctrine of the Russian Federation showed, that less than 10 percent of those 66 subjects that gave their answers have an effective plan or a program concerning climate change adaptation and reducing greenhouse gases. About 25 percent of the subjects reported, that they have taken some actions concerning energy policy or environmental protection that indirectly meet some of the adaptation requirements or help to reduce emissions. The answers from the rest of the subjects showed, that their comprehension of the objectives of the Climate Doctrine is insufficient, and that they are not fulfilling their responsibility in taking necessary actions.

According to Olga Senova, head of the Climate Secretariat of the Russian Social Ecological Union, there is a need for normative acts that place a clear responsibility on the subjects to take measures in climate change adaptation and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. It would be useful to spread the knowledge and experience of the federal subjects and foreign countries, where climate strategies already are being implemented. The regional administrations have to be offered expert help with climate change adaptation measures and in creating the principles for the climate change strategies. Seminar discussion proved, that a public report on the necessary adaptation measures exists, and that monitoring the doctrine’s implementation is on the priority list of the Russian Social Ecological Union.

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