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Russian government sees the sunny side in climate change

Climate change in the 2020s
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Russia is putting a positive spin on climate change. In a document published on a government website last weekend, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev outlined a "national adaptation plan" that describes the potential benefits of global warming even as the country seeks to cope with its adverse effects.

Russia is warming two and a half times faster than the rest of the globe, as the document acknowledges. The consequences of climate change will "have a significant and growing impact on the country's socioeconomic development, living conditions, human health and on the economy," according to document from the country's economic development ministry translated by CBS MoneyWatch.

But global warming isn't all bad, according to the document. In addition to negative effects such as increased flooding, greater risk of wildfires and the melting of permafrost, the Russian government lists some "potentially positive" changes.

For example, shorter winters mean residents can save on home-heating fuel, the document says. Less Arctic ice also makes it easier for Russian ships to navigate the Arctic Ocean, opening new sea routes, while more land can be used to grow crops as once-frozen areas thaw out.

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The plan puts forth some broad measures to tackle the effects of climate change, including constructing dams, using drought-resistant crops and temporarily resettling people in the line of danger.

Much like U.S. President Donald Trump, who has described the idea of man-made climate change as a "hoax," Russian President Vladimir Putin has denied that humans are responsible for climate change.

"Nobody knows the origins of global climate change," Putin said at his annual press conference last month. "In the history of our Earth there have been periods of warming and cooling and it could depend on processes in the universe," he said, while acknowledging the challenge of dealing with environmental changes.

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Russia, the world's fourth-largest emitter of greenhouse gases, formally joined the Paris climate agreement last year, after a historic forest fire season in Siberia burned an area the size of Greece.

The vast majority of scientists agree that human use of fossil fuels is contributing to climate change. Since the middle of the 19th century, the planet has warmed about 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit on average, which has been linked to more heat waves, more extreme weather events and . Arctic areas are warming much faster than the average.

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