NEWSWATCH: “In the ‘lungs of Moscow’ forest, Russia’s civil activists make their mark; Runaway housing developments have been going up around Moscow, threatening the ‘lungs’ of the city – the ring forest around the capital. But locals have been fighting back against the project – with success.” – Christian Science Monitor/Fred Weir

Map of Russia and Russian Flag adapted from images at state.gov

A diverse band of urban activists, communicating largely through social media, are combating plans to build an enormous high-rise housing development amid the forested ring around the capital  …. The protesters who make up the Mortongrad Nyet! coalition have no shared ideology, and certainly aren’t interested in criticizing the Kremlin. Yet they are redefining the limits of Russian civil society […]

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Will Chinese factories pollute the Russian Far East?

Siberian River, Forest, Mountain

Experts from WWF’s Amur branch assess the environmental impact of moving certain Chinese industries to Russia’s highly forested peripheral eastern region. (Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – ELENA FEDICHKINA, EVGENY SHVARTS, SPECIAL TO RBTH – May 13, 2016) China’s proposal to relocate some of its production facilities to the Russian Far East has provoked heated debates among many experts. […]

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Why Ukraine is at risk of forgetting the lessons of Chernobyl

Chernobyl File Photo

Thirty years after the explosion at the nuclear power plant in the Ukrainian city of Chernobyl, one Russian expert argues that, by using American fuel in Soviet-built reactors and pushing the power-producing capabilities of its nuclear plants, Ukraine is putting itself at potential risk of another disaster. (Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – ANDREI RETINGER, SPECIAL TO RBTH – […]

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NEWSWATCH New York Times: “Chernobyl’s Silent Exclusion Zone (Except for the Logging)”

Chernobyl File Photo

  … on Ukraine’s dirtiest patch of land, Stop Corruption says, … under-the-table dealings of the bureaucrats who manage the area are flourishing … the group says, the Exclusion Zone Management Agency has turned a blind eye to … Chernobyl logging. The Zone of Alienation, as it is also known, is a rough circle with an 18-mile radius, fenced off […]

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Arctic Sea Ice Hits Record Low

Arctic Map

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – March 29, 2016) The growth of Arctic sea ice this winter hit the lowest level on record because of unusually warm temperatures, U.S. scientists said on March 28. On March 24, sea ice reached this year’s maximum of 14.52 million square kilometers of the Arctic Ocean, the National Snow and Ice Data Center said. That’s 12,950 […]

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AUDIO & NEWSWATCH: “For Russian Farmers, Climate Change Is Nyet So Great.” – National Public Radio

Eurasia Map Showing Temperature Ranges

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says last month was the warmest January on record. That sets off alarm bells for climate scientists, but for the average person living in a northern climate, it might not sound so bad. * * * The problem … is that while warmer weather might open up more land in cold regions such as […]

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When Baikal water will be more expensive than oil

Lake Baikal and Environs Satellite Photo

The average price of a bottle of drinking water in Moscow has become more expensive than what a bottle of Brent crude would cost. RBTH asks experts if it would be worthwhile for Russia to start exporting water from Lake Baikal. (Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – GLEB FEDOROV, RBTH – February 5, 2016) [Charts here rbth.com/politics_and_society/society/2016/02/05/when-baikal-water-will-be-more-expensive-than-oil_564923] In January, […]

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NEWSWATCH AP: “Winter heat wave, of a sort, envelops usually frigid Moscow”

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

AP covers unseasonably mild temperatures in Moscow. It’s usually the cold that’s bitter in Moscow in December, but this year it’s the humor that bites during an unusual warm spell. … temperatures climbed as high as 7 degrees Celsius (45 degrees Fahrenheit) … a joke began circulating … This was nature’s compensation for Russians being unable to take vacations in […]

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We need to find the common ground between climate change and civil society

Snowy Night on Red Square with Old St. Basil's Lit Up

To combat Russia’s industrial polluters, public indifference and limits on NGO activity, we need to link climate change and civil society. Русский (opendemocracy.net – Gleb Paikachev – December 11, 2015) Gleb Paikachev is an activist with the Nature and Youth organisation, Murmansk. Murmansk, a region just shy of the Arctic Circle, has its share of both global and local ecological […]

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Russia prepared to cut greenhouse gas emissions to 70% by 2030

File Photo of Smokestacking Spewing Cloud of Discharge

(Interfax – December 10, 2015) Russia is prepared to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by another 5 percentage points, or to 70 percent of the 1990 level by 2030, the Russian Natural Resources and Environment Ministry reported Minister Sergei Donskoi as saying at the UN climate conference (COP21) in Paris. Donskoi sai that combating climate change is a national priority […]

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Arctic winter temperature rose 3 degrees since 1990

Arctic Satellite Image and Map

(Interfax – December 8, 2015) The average Arctic winter temperature has risen three degrees Celsius since 1990, Russian Minister of Natural Resources and Ecology Sergei Donskoy told a seventh High-Level Assembly of the Climate and Clean Air coalition. The average ice cover in the Arctic sea has halved since 1980, he said. “Already this region is characterized by a three-degree […]

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Most Russians Won’t Defend Environment Unless State Gives the Order, Semenov Says

Siberian River, Forest, Mountain

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, December 6, 2015) In Western countries, environmentalism is so popular that businessmen and politicians compete with each other to see who can be “the most green.” But in Russia, with rare exceptions, people focus on defending the environment only if the government orders them to, according to Vladimir Semenov, the head of […]

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Interfax: Russia, U.S. cooperating in telecommunications, environmental issues, access to drinking water in Arctic

Arctic Map

MOSCOW. Dec 4 (Interfax) – Russia and the United States are cooperating in spheres of mutual interest in the Arctic Council, Russian Foreign Ministry Ambassador at Large, senior official in the Arctic Council Vladimir Barbin has said. “Speaking of the U.S. program, they have lots of projects Russia is interested in […]. Naturally, we will be cooperating with them,” Barbin […]

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COP21: a diary from Paris

Polar Bear on Ice, Looking Back at Camera

oDR correspondent Angelina Davydova is in Paris attending the UN climate conference COP21, where she’s keeping her eye on the Russian side of things… (opendemocracy.net – November 30, 2015) 30 November: Putin speaks Today was the first day of the UN climate conference in Paris (#COP21) and it began with 130 heads of state and government addressing the conference. This […]

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Climate Change And The View From Moscow

Snowy Night on Red Square with Old St. Basil's Lit Up

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – Tom Balmforth – Explainer – MOSCOW, November 29, 2015) Russia’s size and broad range of environments, from the arid southern steppe to the frigid Arctic, expose the world’s largest country to many aspects of climate change. President Vladimir Putin is one of dozens of leaders expected to attend a UN conference on climate change that starts […]

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NEWSWATCH AP: “Energy-Rich Russia Pays Little Attention to Climate Change”

Snowy Night on Red Square with Old St. Basil's Lit Up

AP covers Russia’s posture towards climate-related issues and environmentally focused alternatives. The issue is largely absent from public discussion and officials appear to give it only lip service, when they’re not sardonically dismissing it. * * *  In a country where even recycling is a little-understood concept, there is little support and few incentives from the national government for Russian […]

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Why climate change is not on Russia’s agenda

Snowy Night on Red Square with Old St. Basil's Lit Up

In Russia, global climate change has already had serious economic, environmental and social impact. A heady mix of conspiracy and inertia is to blame. (opendemocracy.net – Marianna Poberezhskaya – November 19, 2015) Marianna Poberezhskaya is a lecturer in International Relations at the Department of Politics and IR, Nottingham Trent University. She received her PhD in Politics and International Relations from […]

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The heat is on to meet the climate challenge

Polar Bear on Ice, Looking Back at Camera

The UN climate conference in Paris later this month may determine Russia’s policies for years to come (Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – GLEB FEDOROV, RBTH – November 18, 2015) The largest flood in the history of Russia’s Black Sea coast killed 171 people in 2012. In just two days five months’ worth of rainfall hit the mountainous regions […]

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NEWSWATCH Reuters: “Russian media take climate cue from skeptical Putin”

Reuters covers Russian media coverage of climate issues. … the Russian public heard little mention of climate change, because media coverage across state-controlled television stations and print media all but ignored it. On national TV, the villains were locals who routinely but carelessly burn off tall grasses every year, and the sometimes incompetent crews struggling to put the fires out. […]

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New research shows the Arctic is warming faster than previously believed

Arctic Map

(Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – Yana Pchelintseva, special to RBTH – September 11, 2015) Russian scientists have found about 700 “methane holes” in the Arctic shelf. The scale of emissions shows that the permafrost has degraded severely, and researchers think the thawing is irreversible. A team of Russian scientists spent over 20 years examining thermokarst lakes – bodies […]

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Russians fight to keep derelict church from sinking beneath the waters

Map of Russia and Russian Flag adapted from images at state.gov

Volunteers from all over Russia are working in the Vologda Region to save a unique monument of 18th-century architecture – the Church of the Nativity in the village of Krokhino – from destruction. For 50 years, it has been surrounded by water after the village was flooded during the construction of the Volga-Baltic Canal in 1964. (Russia Beyond the Headlines […]

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Russia is swimming in oil; Russia’s oil industry lacks the infrastructure to avoid spills and leaks; and the environmental consequences are horrific

Oil Wells File Photo

(opendemocracy.net – July 28, 2015) Georgy Borodyansky is an Omsk-based correspondent for Novaya Gazeta. Russian oil giant Rosneft has dumped on us northerners once again. It’s unlikely that anyone apart from the locals would have heard about the pipeline which burst on the outskirts of Nefteyugansk if not for photos of the aftermath on social media. The pictures were taken […]

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RBTH: Culture of waste recycling slowly beginning to emerge in Russia

Map of Russia and Russian Flag adapted from images at state.gov

(Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – Darya Lyubinskaya, RBTH – July 17, 2015) While bins for different kinds of garbage are a common sight in the U.S. and Europe, a system of separate waste collection has only recently begun to develop in Russia. Landfills, covering over 30,000 square miles in total, still represent a major environmental challenge for the […]

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Locusts, Spiders, Snakes Plague Russian Regions

Tarantula file photo, adapted from image at usgs.gov

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – June 30, 2015) Several Russian regions have been plagued recently by locusts, spiders and snakes, media reports and government officials said Monday. Locusts have destroyed large swaths of crops in the republic of Bashkortostan and the Orenburg region, prompting the authorities to declare a state of emergency, Channel One reported. An aircraft was scrambled to […]

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NEWSLINK The Ecologist: Ukraine war leaves a long shadow of pollution, ill-health and ravaged industries

Map of Ukraine, Including Crimea, and Neighbors, Including Russia

Over a year after violent conflict began in East Ukraine, indications are emerging of its severe environmental impacts in the highly industrialised Donbas region, and the grave health risks to civilians that will endure long into the future. The area will need international assistance both to reduce the hazards, and to ‘green’ the region’s often polluting industries.

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Russian Polluters Evading Huge Environmental Fines

Hand Pulling Cash from Envelope

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Anastasia Bazenkova – May 12, 2015) Russia’s environmental protection watchdog is failing to collect penalties imposed on polluters worth tens of millions of dollars per year. Penalties worth 2 billion rubles ($40 million) ordered by the Federal Service for Supervising Natural Resources, or Rosprirodnadzor, went unpaid in 2014, Kremlin chief of staff Sergei Ivanov told […]

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U.S. State Department bans government bodies from cooperating with Russia on climate issues

Globe Graphic Simulating Climate Shifts

(Interfax – February 25, 2015) The U.S. State Department has banned the cooperation of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) with Russian counterparts in climate studies, head of Roshydromet environmental monitoring authority Alexander Frolov has announced. “There are difficulties in relations with our partners, primarily the United States. The State Department officially banned climate-related cooperation to state bodies, such […]

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Discounting the future of climate change in Russia

File Photo of Polar Bear on Ice and Snow with Water Nearby

(opendemocracy.net – Maria Sharmina, Christopher Jones – January 22, 2015) Dr Maria Sharmina and Dr Christopher Jones are researchers at the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, University of Manchester. Like it or not, global warming will affect Russia, and ignoring it only stores up problems for later. The future is not what it used to be. Giant methane ‘holes’, […]

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Russia’s Rate of Global Warming Twice as High as World Average

File Photo of Polar Bear on Ice and Snow with Water Nearby

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – November 26, 2014) Russia is heating up 2.5 times faster than the rest of the world, but may yet stand to benefit from it, the country’s chief meteorologist said in comments carried by the Interfax news agency. Temperatures in Russia increase 0.43 degrees Celsius per decade, compared with a world average of 0.17 degrees, said […]

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The problems of environmental activism in Russia; Climate change is still of little interest to Russians. But why?

Polar Bear on Ice

(opendemocracy.net – Angelina Davydova – November 17, 2014) Angelina Davydova is an independant environmental journalist based in St Petersburg. This autumn, in cities worldwide there were climate-themed marches to tie in with the Ban Ki-Moon UN summit, the most of important of which was a 400-thousand-strong demonstration in New York; and Russia too passed a series of measures. On 23 […]

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Come rain or shine: How Russians deal with the weather

File Photo of Moscow In Snowy Winter Showing St. Basil's At Night in Snowfall, with People on the Ground in the Distance

(Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – Richard Winterbottom, special to RBTH – November 3, 2014) Keeping a weather eye open: With winter slowly creeping in, our newly repatriated expat recalls how Russians react to the weather. Last week my Facebook and Vkontakte walls have been plastered with pictures of perviy sneg (first snow of the year) in several of […]

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Russia Could Be Facing 35-Year Cold Weather Spell, Scientist Says

File Photo of Moscow In Snowy Winter Showing St. Basil's At Night in Snowfall, with People on the Ground in the Distance

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – October 30, 2014) The early onset of winter experienced this year by residents in Siberia and the Ural Mountains could mark the start of a 35-year cycle of colder weather, a leading Russian scientist said Wednesday. “Changes in climate are cyclical. From 1946 to 1976, there was a cold cycle, which was then replaced by […]

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Muscovites in for a Harsh Winter as Temperatures Set to Plunge

File Photo of Moscow In Snowy Winter Showing St. Basil's At Night in Snowfall, with People on the Ground in the Distance

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – October 17, 2014) After several years of relatively mild winters, Russia is gearing up for what meteorologists say will be a truly “Russian winter,” with its traditional frosts and ample snowfall. “Our estimations show that this year’s winter will be closer to our long-term average,” Alexander Frolov, head of the Federal Agency for Hydrometeorology and […]

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Russia vows to reduce hazardous emissions to 70-75% of 1990 levels by 2030

File Photo of Smokestacking Spewing Cloud of Discharge

(Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – Galiya Ibragimova, RBTH – October 14, 2014) Russia has announced its intention to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 70-75 percent from 1990 levels by 2030. However, specialists interviewed by RBTH are divided on whether the plans are realistic, with some arguing that the pledge is incompatible with Russia’s energy strategy through 2035. […]

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Moscow Times: “WWF: Russia Only G8 Member With Growing Biocapacity”

Siberian Natural Scenery, with River, Trees, Hills

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Alexey Eremenko – October 14, 2014) Russia is the only country among the world’s biggest economies whose biological resources not only exceed its environmental footprint but are continuing to grow, a new study said. WWF Russia on Monday presented a report on Russia’s biocapacity, or the capability of its ecosystems to produce resources useful for […]

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Russia Is Running Out of Forest

Siberian Natural Scenery, with River, Trees, Hills

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Alexey Eremenko – October 1, 2014) It seems unfeasible that Russia, which holds a fifth of the planet’s forests, could run out of wood. And yet it is happening, at least with commercially usable forests, environmental analysts say. The Russian logging industry will face lack of harvestable timber in 10 to 20 years, a short […]

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Majority of Russia’s Urban Population Is Breathing Highly Polluted Air

Aerial View of Moscow From Beyond Stadium, file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – September 4, 2014) The majority of Russia’s urban population is breathing highly polluted air, including at least 14 million people in 38 cities where pollutant concentrations are 10 times above acceptable levels, according to a recent report by the national weather and environment service. Moscow was among cities that rated high on air pollution, mostly […]

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Interfax: Rasmussen’s claim Moscow funds “anti-fracking” environmentalists absurd – Greenpeace

File Photo of Blue Flame from Natural Gas

MOSCOW. June 20 (Interfax) – Greenpeace has rejected a claim made by NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen that Russia funds European environmentalists opposing shale gas production in Europe. “Greenpeace sees this suggestion as absurd because the Organization and many other environmental groups are calling for fracking which used in exploiting shale formations, to be banned across the world,” Greenpeace […]

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Russia’s gamekeeper has turned poacher

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

(opendemocracy.net – Mikhail Kreindlin – June 20, 2014) Mikhail Kreindlin is an expert at Greenpeace Russia on specially protected areas. Russia has a vast number of nature reserves and national parks. But the government body supposed to be protecting them is in fact destroying many of them by allowing development and mining. In Russia, as in other countries, there are […]

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What will be the cost of global warming to Russia?

File Photo of Polar Bear on Ice and Snow with Water Nearby

(Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – Gleb Fedorov, RBTH – April 9, 2014) The series of unusual climatic events that has affected Russia over the past few years has continued into the beginning of 2014. With dramatic global changes predicted as a result of rising temperatures, what awaits the country’s geography and economy? The series of unusual climatic events […]

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Abnormal heat waves, floods will continue due to global warming – experts

File Photo of Past Disaster

(Interfax – April 1, 2014) Contrary to widespread belief, global warming is continuing, with Russia hit the hardest, the UN Panel on Climate Change said in a report. The 1,500-page report, prepared by more than 250 experts, was published on Monday and will be submitted to governments, which members of the Russian group of experts said at a press conference […]

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Snowstorm Paralyzes Moscow on April Fool’s Day

Map of Russia and Russian Flag adapted from images at state.gov

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – April 2, 2014) A snowstorm buffeted Moscow for about 18 hours, snarling traffic and blanketing the city in a record 17 centimeters of white that many residents probably wished was an April Fool’s joke. “Winter has returned to Moscow, and this is no April Fool’s joke,” Mayor Sergei Sobyanin said at a City Hall meeting. […]

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