This article fills a major hole in the Western literature on climate change perceptions by reporting detailed data from Russia. While Northern Russia demonstrates high rates of climate change, regional adaptation policies are yet to be established. Complicating the problem, how the Russian public perceives climate change remains poorly known. This study synthesizes data from observations, modeling, and sociological surveys, and gives insight into the public perceptions of current and projected future changes in climate. Results indicate that, similar to what is found in the Western context, unusual weather patterns and single extreme events have a deeper impact than long-term climate change on public perceptions. The majority of the population considers climate and environmental changes locally, does not associate them with global drivers, and is not prepared to act on them. Accordingly, even the best designed climate policies cannot be implemented in Northern Russia, because there is no public demand for them. To address this situation, climate scientists should work to educate members of the public about basic scientific concepts so that they begin to demand better climate policies.
This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Subscribe to journal
Immediate online access to all issues from 2019. Subscription will auto renew annually.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Anisimov, O. 2016. Challenges of the changing climate: A case study of Russia. Russian Analytical Digest 185: 2–5.
Anisimov, O., and A.B. Sherstukov. 2016. Evaluating the effect of environmental factors on permafrost dynamics in Russia. Earth Cryosphere 20: 90–99.
Anisimov, O.A., and V.A. Kokorev. 2017. Cities of the Russian North in the context of climate change. In Sustaining Russia’s Arctic cities, ed. R. Orttung, 141–174. New-York: Berghahn.
Anisimov, O.A., V.A. Kokorev, and E.L. Ziltcova. 2013. Temporal and spatial patterns of modern climatic warming: Case study of Northern Eurasia. Climatic Change 118: 871–883.
Anisimov, O.A., E.L. Zhiltcova, and V.Y. Razhivin. 2015. Predictive modeling of plant productivity in the Russian Arctic using satellite data. Izvestiya, Atmospheric and Oceanic Physics 51: 1051–1059.
Brooks, J., D. Oxley, A. Vedlitz, S. Zahran, and C. Lindsey. 2014. Abnormal daily temperature and concern about climate change across the United States. Review of Policy Research 31: 199–217.
Capstick, S., L. Whitmarsh, W. Poortinga, N. Pidgeon, and P. Upham. 2015. International trends in public perceptions of climate change over the past quarter century. WIRE’s Climate Change 6: 35–61.
Collins, L.M., and S.T. Lanza. 2010. Latent class and latent transition analysis for the social, behavioral, and health sciences. New York: Wiley. ISBN 9780470228395.
Egan, P.J., and M. Mullin. 2012. Turning personal experience into political attitudes: The effect of local weather on Americans’ perceptions about global warming. Journal of Politics 74: 796–809.
Hagen, B., A. Middel, and D. Pijawka. 2016. European climate change perceptions: Public support for mitigation and adaptation policies. Environmental Policy and Governance 26: 170–183.
Hale, H.E. 2006. Why not parties in Russia? Democracy, federalism, and the state. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Hansen, J., M. Sato, and R. Ruedy. 2012. Perception of climate change. PNAS 109: 14726–14727.
Hornsey, M.J., E.A. Harris, P.G. Bain, and K.S. Fielding. 2016. Meta-analyses of the determinants and outcomes of belief in climate change. Nature Climate Change 6: 622–627.
Howe, P.D., M. Mildenberger, J.R. Marlon, and A. Leiserowitz. 2015. Geographic variation in opinions on climate change at state and local scales in the USA. Nature Climate Change 5: 596–603.
Ingelhart, R. 1995. Public support for environmental protection: Objective problems and subjective values in 43 societies. PS. Political Science and Politics 28: 57–72.
Kattcov, V.M., and S.M. Semenov. 2014. Second assessment report of Roshydromet on climate change and its consequences in Russia. Moscow: Planeta.
Kaufmann, R.K., M.L. Mann, S. Gopal, J.A. Liederman, P.D. Howe, F. Pretise, X. Tang, and M. Gilmore. 2017. Spatial heterogeneity of climate change as an experiential basis for skepticism. PNAS 114: 67–71.
Kokorev, V.A., A.A. Yershova, and O.A. Anisimov. 2017. Permafrost web portal.
Ledeneva, A.V. 2013. Can Russia modernise? Sistema, power networks, and informal governance. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Lee, T.M., E.M. Markowitz, P.D. Howe, C.-Y. Ko, and A.A. Leiserowitz. 2015. Predictors of public climate change awareness and risk perception around the world. Nature Climate Change 5: 1014–1020.
Marquart-Pyatt, S.T., A.M. McCright, T. Dietz, and R.E. Dunlap. 2014. Politics eclipses climate extremes for climate change perceptions. Global Environmental Change 29: 246–257.
Mokhov, I.I., B.A. Revich, V.A. Semenov, V.C. Khon, and D.A. Shaposhnikov. 2013. Effect of climate change and weather variations on the economical development and human health in the northern regions of Russia. In Fundamental problems of development of Russia: interdisciplinary synthesis, ed. V.M. Kotliakov, 88–100. Moscow: Media-Press.
Porfiriev, B.N. 2011. Environment and economy: interference risks. Moscow: Ankil.
Shi, J., V.H.M. Visschers, M. Siegrist, and J. Arvai. 2016. Knowledge as a driver of public perceptions about climate change reassessed. Nature Climate Change 6: 759–763.
Spence, A., W. Poortinga, C. Butler, and N.F. Pidgeon. 2011. Perceptions of climate change and willingness to save energy related to flood experience. Nature Climate Change 1: 46–49.
Stephenson, S.R. 2017. Access to Arctic urban areas in flux: Opportunities and uncertainties in transport and development. In Sustaining Russia’s Arctic cities, ed. R. Orttung, 175–200. New-York: Berghahn.
Treisman, D. 2011. The Return: Russia’s Journey from Gorbachev to Medvedev. New York: Free Press.
van der Linden, S. 2015. The social-psychological determinants of climate change risk perceptions: Towards a comprehensive model. Journal of Environmental Psychology 41: 112–124.
Vaughan, D.G., J.C. Comiso, I. Allison, J. Carrasco, G. Kaser, R. Kwok, P. Mote, T. Murray, et al. 2013. Observations: Cryosphere. In Climate change 2013: The physical science basis. Contribution of working group I to the fifth assessment report of the intergovernmental panel on climate change, ed. T.F. Stocker, D. Qin, G.-K. Plattner, M. Tignor, S.K. Allen, J. Boschung, A. Nauels, Y. Xia, et al., 317–382. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Zhiltcova, E.L., and O.A. Anisimov. 2015. Vegetation dynamics in Northern Eurasia: Analysis of observations and projection for the 21st century. Arctic 21 century. Natural Sciences: 48–59.
Zolotokrylin, A.N., V.V. Vinogradova, and A.A. Sokolov. 2018. Climate change and the human life in the Arctic zone of the Russian Federation. Ice and Snow xxx: xxx.
The study of the public perception of climate change in Northern Eurasia is supported by the Russian Science Foundation, Grant # 14-17-00037 to the State Hydrological Institute in St. Petersburg. Authors are thankful to colleagues in Syktyvkar (Anna Tscherbakova) and in Yakutsk (Yuriy Zhegusov) for the assistance in public surveying, and to Yelena Zhiltcova and Ksenia Shapovalova (State hydrological institute in St. Petersburg) for preparing figures and tables.
Electronic supplementary material
Below is the link to the electronic supplementary material.
About this article
Cite this article
Anisimov, O., Orttung, R. Climate change in Northern Russia through the prism of public perception. Ambio 48, 661–671 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s13280-018-1096-x
- Adaptation policy
- Climate change
- Northern Russia
- Public perception