Turning Point

Due to climate change Russia will face weather phenomena never seen before - the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has published the first part of the Sixth Assessment Report. According to experts and representatives of public organizations, measures to reduce emissions and adaptation should be taken immediately.

Climate Change 2021: Basics of Physical Science report is part of the first international integrated climate assessment in seven years, the IPCC’s Sixth Assessment Report (AR6). The document is the culmination of five years of work by 234 foremost scientists from more than 60 countries.


One of the important conclusions of this 3,500-page report is that climate change on the planet is undoubtedly directly related to human activities: burning of fossil fuels, destruction of forests, etc.


Although climatologists routinely record the dynamics of physical processes, this is the first report that assesses the risks so thoroughly. Abrupt and irreversible changes in the Earth’s most important systems have serious consequences. Humanity has already used up 86% of the carbon budget, scientists say


According to the report, heatwaves and wildfires, torrential rains, and floods have become more intense and frequent since the 1950s, affecting more than 90 percent of the world's regions. For example, extreme heatwaves, which used to occur about once every 50 years, now occur every ten years. And warming of 1.5°C would occur every 5 years, 2°C every 3.5 years.


Accelerated ice melt has poured trillions of tons of water into the oceans, reduced oxygen levels in the seas, increased acidity, and reduced the absorptive capacity of the ecosystem. By the end of the century, the range of global ocean level rise ranges from 28 to 100 cm. But there is a possibility that it could be 200 cm by then, the report’s authors warn.


Whereas in the recent past extreme sea-level rise events occurred once a century, now by 2100 they will occur annually. “It may seem very far away, but millions of children already born should make it to the 22nd century,” says one of the report’s authors, Professor Jonathan Bamber of the University of Bristol, UK.


One of the report’s conclusions: warming of the atmosphere is already inevitable -- the IPCC believes we are bound to reach 1.5°C in the next two decades, no matter what happens to emissions. But every ton of hydrocarbons pumped out increases the impact and risks of extreme heat, floods, and droughts, so action is urgently needed. The situation requires “immediate, rapid, and large-scale reductions” in emissions, the scientists state.

A slow reduction leads to a warming of 2°C and much more suffering for all life on Earth. If emissions don’t drop in the next couple of decades, a 3°C warming could lead to catastrophe. And the “4-5°C pathway” scientists call “apocalypse territory.”  While in the case of immediate rapid reductions, the environment could absorb 70% of our emissions.


A special feature of the new report is the strong focus on regional assessments. It makes clear that the climate crisis has no limits. “We can no longer assume that the citizens of wealthier, safer countries will be able to survive the worst manifestations of a rapidly destabilizing climate.”

Russia, according to the report, will face weather events not seen before.  The amount of heatwaves will intensify across Eastern Europe. But regions of Russia, the scientists suggest, will be hit more often by both heat waves and cold spells.

Forest fires will occur more frequently. The duration of wildfire seasons in Russia will continue to increase. Floods will become more frequent and destructive. According to the report, the maximum river flow of Siberian rivers is likely to double by 2050, and the floodplains of Siberian rivers may increase by 2-5%.

While some parts of the world will experience more frequent droughts, the Far East and the Arctic can expect an increase in average precipitation in the form of heavy lingering rainfall. Also, according to scientists, if emissions on the planet do not decrease sharply in the next few years, it is likely that about 76% of the permafrost area, most of which is located in Russia.

On the map of urban areas made by IPCC experts, Moscow is marked as one of the points of temperature anomalies. The average temperature in Moscow has increased by 1 degree in just 50 years. Only Calcutta and Tehran got warmer during this time.

 Civil society representatives note the importance of the new IPCC data and emphasize the need to respond as soon as possible. In their Statement, representatives of the Russian Socio-Ecological Union (RSES) call for the development and adoption of a regulatory and methodological framework for the formation and implementation of climate plans of the subjects of the Russian Federation and municipalities, including both low-carbon development and adaptation.