Scientists from US, China, India, and Japan to Attend Climate Change and Permafrost Thawing Conference in Yakutsk

Representatives of the scientific community of Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, China, India, Brazil, the United States, and Japan will take part in the Climate Change and Permafrost Melting Research and Training Conference, which will take place in Yakutsk on 22–24 March as part of the events of Russia’s chairmanship of the Arctic Council in 2021–2023, which are managed by the Roscongress Foundation.

“Around 500 people plan to take part in the conference, with half of them attending in person. Russian scientists from Moscow, St. Petersburg, the Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous District, Buryatia, Kabardino-Balkaria, the Komi Republic, Chukotka, Karelia, the Krasnoyarsk Territory, and the Murmansk, Tomsk, Novosibirsk, and Tyumen Regions will speak at the event. In addition, scientists from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, China, India, Brazil, the US, and Japan are expected to participate in the events of the conference,” Andrey Fedotov, Permanent Representative of the Russian President for the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia) and First Deputy Chairman of the Government of the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia), said during a press conference dedicated to the upcoming event in Yakutsk.

Scientific cooperation is one of the most rapidly developing and promising areas in both bilateral and multilateral cooperation, said Nikolay Korchunov, Chair of the Arctic Senior Officials and Ambassador-at-Large of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Russia attaches great importance to intensifying cooperation in high latitudes with other countries considering that mechanisms for multilateral cooperation in the Arctic, including the Arctic Council, are expected to weaken, he said.

“The themes related to the climate, poles, and permafrost degradation concern all states today. Climate change in the Arctic dictates the future of the entire planet. This century, the Arctic will warm up two to three times faster than the rest of the world. We must keep in mind that permafrost contains a substantial amount of carbon that enters the atmosphere during the degradation of the permafrost layer, which further exacerbates global climate change,” Korchunov said.

Korchunov also noted that the new version of the Fundamentals of the State Policy of the Russian Federation in the Arctic for the period until 2035 contains a separate clause that requires an assessment of the condition and degradation of permafrost for the integrated socioeconomic development of Russia’s Arctic zone. Issues related to the state of infrastructure in the Arctic in light of global warming are taking on greater importance, Korchunov said.

“Permafrost thawing could cause serious damage: the Russian Ministry of Natural Resources estimates that its degradation causes 29% of losses in oil and gas production, as well as problems in the construction of railways and highways. According to the Russian Academy of Sciences and Lomonosov Moscow State University, the likely damage from permafrost degradation by 2050 will be at least RUB 5 trillion,” said Maxim Dankin, Director of the Department for the Development of Russia’s Arctic Zone and the Implementation of Infrastructure Projects at the Ministry for the Development of the Russian Far East and Arctic.

The Climate Change and Permafrost Melting Research and Training Conference aims to find joint practical and scientifically based solutions to adapt the economy to climate change. The main part of the conference’s research and training agenda will be devoted to the sustainability of natural and technical permafrost systems amidst climate change, which experts will discuss, including in a popular science format. The conference will be attended by Russian and foreign scientists, economists, engineers, builders, and representatives of the public authorities.

The Climate Change and Permafrost Melting Research and Training Conference will be held regularly once every two years based on an agreement to be signed by the Russian Federal Service for Hydrometeorology and Environmental Monitoring, the Russian Academy of Sciences, North-Eastern Federal University, as well as the Government and the Academy of Sciences of the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia). In addition, an Association of Geocryology Experts will be set up as part of the event.

The conference events will be held both in person and remotely. Studios will be organized for participants in Moscow, Beijing, and Astana, and live broadcasts of meetings and sessions will be available on the event page on the Russian chairmanship’s official website. The conference is being organized by the Ministry for the Development of the Russian Far East and Arctic together with the Government of the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia) and North-Eastern Federal University.

Environmental protection, including issues related to climate change, is among the priorities of Russia’s chairmanship of the Arctic Council in 2021–2023. Given the rapid climate change in the Arctic, which includes, among other things, the degradation of permafrost and the emission of gas hydrates, Russia believes the primary challenges are to mitigate the negative consequences of climate change, ensure people adapt their daily activities to these changes and enhance their sustainability, preserve and restore the environment, use natural resources sustainably, maintain the health of Arctic ecosystems, including the marine environment, and preserve biodiversity, in particular as concerns migratory bird species.