More than half of Russians believe climate & environment getting worse after year of freak weather in world’s largest country
Most Russians think the world’s environmental situation has worsened over the last two or three years, with 48 percent now believing that protecting their country’s ecology is one of the state’s most urgent tasks.
That’s according to a survey taken by pollster WCIOM in July and October, published on Monday, in which 54 percent of respondents expressed concern over the degradation of the environment.
Against the backdrop of a year of freak weather, and an abnormally warm 2019 winter, it is becoming a more serious issue for the average Russian.
The findings revealed that just four percent of surveyed citizens think the environmental situation in the world and in Russia is “very good,” with a majority believing the planet’s ecology has worsened in recent years. Around a third (34 percent) of those asked in October reported that the situation has worsened in their local area.
When it comes to the government’s role, 48 percent of respondents believe environmental protection is one of the most important tasks of the state, with a majority (56 percent) of those over 65 supporting this statement. The age group least likely to agree is people aged between 25 and 34, at just 38 percent.
For those questioned, the most pressing environmental problems are the pollution of bodies of water and their banks, as well as deforestation and unauthorized garbage dumps.
2020 has seen Russia experience freak weather incidents on both ends of the scale. In June, the Siberian town of Verkhoyansk recorded a temperature of 38 degrees Celsius, the highest ever seen within the Arctic Circle. That month, the same region also saw forest fires. A few months later, in mid-November, the far-eastern city of Vladivostok saw strong winds and freezing rain, leading to a state of emergency as thousands of residents went without power for days.
In October, Russian President Vladimir Putin told the Valdai Club policy advisory that climate tensions have “reached a critical point,” noting that Russia is particularly vulnerable to the impacts of global warming, as 65 percent of the country’s territory is made up of permafrost.
“It affects pipeline systems, residential districts built on permafrost, and so on,” Putin explained. “If as much as 25 percent of the near-surface layers of permafrost, which is about three or four meters, melt by 2100, we will feel the effect very strongly.”
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