Staunton, October 19 – Aleksandr Krutikov, Russia’s deputy minister for development of the far east and the Arctic, says that Russia is losing up to 2.5 billion US dollars every year because of the melting of permafrost that underlies much of the country’s north as a result of global warming.
Moreover, he continues, “this problem must be solved because losses will grow with each passing year. The extent of the problem is very serious: pipelines will break and buildings collapse,” an especially critical problem for Russia where 15 percent of gas and 80 percent of oil come from permafrost areas (kommersant.ru/doc/4132337).
By 2050, if the impact of the melting of permafrost continues at the current rate, that will depress Russian GDP by as much as 7.5 percent. If global warming increases by more than the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement specifies, an agreement that Moscow despite earlier skepticism signed last month, the losses could be much greater.
While some Russians have warned about this threat in the past (windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2018/10/global-warming-threatens-key.html and
windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2019/04/the-ice-will-melt-and-we-will-all-die.html), foreign observers have argued Moscow is underestimating the problem, largely because Vladimir Putin has been a climate skeptic (windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2018/12/moscow-seriously-underestimating-rate.html).
In reporting Krutikov’s remarks, Bloomberg suggested that they may be “anther sign that Russia, the world’s fourth-biggest emitter, is taking the effects of climate change more seriously” now that it is being discussed in terms of economic losses (bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-10-18/russia-s-thawing-permafrost-may-cost-economy-2-3-billion-a-year).