Vladimir Putin calls for action against natural disasters of “unprecedented magnitude”

President Vladimir Putin expressed concern on Saturday August 14 about the series of natural disasters hitting Russia. “The scale and nature of natural disasters in some areas are absolutely unprecedented”Mr Putin said at a meeting broadcast on television, calling on the government to “Act quickly and efficiently” in the face of ecological problems.

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The Russian president cited as examples the heavy rains that hit the south of the country, where the equivalent of “Monthly precipitation level now falls within a few hours”, as well as forest fires in Siberia and the Far East, aggravated by drought and spread by strong winds.

“All this shows once again how important it is to engage in the future in a deep and systematic way in the climate and environmental agenda”, insisted the Russian president.

The IPCC alarm bell

Volunteers fighting the fire near the village of Kyuyorelyakh, Russia, August 7, 2021.

Forest fires in Siberia have already devastated more than 16.6 million hectares, particularly in the Republic of Sakha (formerly Yakutia). In this vast but sparsely populated territory, smoke has blanketed towns, forcing authorities to declare a public holiday on Friday. The Russian Ministry of Emergency Situations, whose leader arrived in the Sakha Republic on Thursday, announced that it had set up a special operation center to deal with these fires, against which some 5,000 people are fighting.

Smoke from fires in the Sakha Republic has caused higher than normal levels of hydrogen sulphide as far as Chelyabinsk, 3,800 km to the southwest. The US space agency, NASA, reported that the smoke had also reached the North Pole.

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In southern Russia and Crimea, torrential rains caused flooding and the evacuation of hundreds of people, while nearly 100,000 people were left without power on Saturday.

In early August, UN climate experts (IPCC) warned of accelerating climate change, stressing that mankind had no choice but to drastically reduce emissions of gas. greenhouse effect if it wanted to limit the damage. Russia is one of the signatory countries of the Paris climate agreement, which have indeed tabled a new plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions for COP26, which will take place in Glasgow in November, but no more ambitious. than the previous ones.

The World with AFP