Risks Seen In Global Warming

While global warming may bring Russia short-term savings on fuel costs and increased crop capacity, a temperature increase of more than 3 degrees Celsius would eventually lead to food and water shortages in some regions, a spread of diseases and a collapse of vital infrastructure, a new report said.

A decrease in the country's water resources would lead to a substantial fall in food production in agricultural areas, and grain losses could reach 11 percent by 2015 because of higher soil aridity in southern regions such as Stavropol and Krasnodar, said the survey on Russia and neighboring countries by the World Wildlife Fund and Oxfam.

The government needs to address the potential threat to infrastructure that would be caused by melting of the permafrost, which covers 60 percent of the country's territory, the report said. Thawing permafrost could form sinkholes and endanger gas industry facilities, 60 percent of which are in the Far North.

The country must also prepare for an increase of extreme weather phenomena such as heat waves, heavy snowfalls and especially floods, the report said.

Most areas of the country prone to floods don't even have the equipment to pump water out of basements, Georgy Safonov, director of the Center for Environmental Economics, said at the report's presentation Tuesday.

St. Petersburg, identified as at risk in the report, plans to complete a 25-kilometer, $3.7 billion flood defense system by the end of this year.