OECD paints alarming picture of Russian environmental degradation

A study of the environmental performance of the Russian Federation presents a picture of a country struggling with dangerously high air pollution, deteriorating drinking water infrastructure, inadequate hazardous waste management measures and rising greenhouse gas emissions.

People living in Russia’s major urban centres are suffering from air pollution levels that exceed internationally recognised health standards. Drinking water infrastructure is deteriorating, leading to increasing rates of water-borne diseases and mortality. Measures to safeguard the growing stock of hazardous waste, including radioactive waste, are compromised, presenting an imminent risk to health in some cases.

The review, Environmental Performance Review of the Russian Federation from the Organisation of Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) also shows Russia is a major contributor to regional and global environmental problems such as acid depositions and greenhouse gas emissions.

Emissions of a number of key pollutants in Russia have declined by about 30% since 1991. However, this decline was largely the result of a sharp fall in production during the period of economic reform, the review shows.

The review also shows that Russia is still dependent on energy and pollution-intensive production processes. As a result, emission reductions have been proportionately lower than the decrease in output.

Russia still uses several times more energy and resources than OECD countries to achieve the same output despite reforms to environmental policies, laws and institutions, the review shows.

The OECD review is the first comprehensive and independent assessment of environmental conditions and policies in Russia. It was carried out with the support of the Russian authorities as part of the programme of co-operation between Russia and OECD which was launched in 1994.

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