In Russia, just a few years ago, one could hear phrases like “global warming will have a positive effect on Russia,” but forest fires, the melting Arctic, frequent floods and heavy rainfall on the streets of Russian cities convinced both adults and young people in Russia of the opposite. Now even schoolchildren can hear that climate change is the cause of unexpected meteorological phenomena.
Until recently, the issues of climate change were of little concern to Russian youth, the topics of waste recycling, air quality or green spaces were more relevant. Now the situation is changing. According to opinion polls conducted among Russian citizens over the age of 18, the topic of the climate crisis began to worry the population much more due in part to the growth of environmental protest campaigns conducted by young activists.
According to the Public Opinion Foundation, in 2021, 67% of Russians believed that global warming has been taking place on Earth in recent years. The ROMIR survey of 2021 showed a similar picture: 56% of respondents considered climate change a “real threat right now”, 82% agreed that climate change is a “real problem”.
As for the causes of climate change, according to a survey by ROMIR for Greenpeace, in 2020, 61% of Russians associated it with human activity. At the same time, some global surveys show a decrease in the understanding of the human contribution to the climate crisis among Russians: according to IPSOS, the share of respondents who agree with the statement “Human activity contributes to climate change” decreased from 75% in 2014 to 63% in 2020.
In 2020, almost half of the respondents were convinced that both the state and its citizens should make more efforts to solve the climate crisis. At the same time, the results of a study by VTSIOM and the National Energy Security Fund 2020 show that only 12% of Russians believe that everyone should reduce consumption to combat global warming, and 43% believe that the fight against climate change should be conducted primarily by the state, which should create a legislative framework to address this issue.
Surveys also show that many Russians do not yet know what they can do: in 2021, about 36% of respondents from the Russian Federation said they do not know how they can personally help in the fight against climate change, and 33% are not sure that their contribution will be noticeable.
In Russia, traditionally, surveys are not conducted separately for young people and the adult population because people from the age of 18 take part in all surveys. However, it is worth noting that young people are much more active in advocating for climate change issues, participating in protest actions and creating non-profit organizations like Fridays for Future Russia. The adult population considers the methods of this organization’s fight against climate change too radical and aggressive, while both adults and young people equally agree with the existence of the problem. Also, young people and adults are equally in solidarity that the Russian state does not pay enough attention to this problem.
Profiles of youth climate groups in Russia
In February 2022, the youth Forum “Climate Change: Youth and Global Challenges” was held, where Russian and foreign youth climate groups presented their programs and areas of further work. In Russia, there has been an increase in interest in the problems of climate change over the past few years. However, the interest of youth groups in this topic is a relatively recent trend.
The most famous youth movement in Russia is a division of the international organization Fridays for Future. This group actively cooperate with small local environmental organizations. This is a feature of the Russian division Fridays for Future, which combines the Russian environmental agenda and the climate agenda in various regions of Russia.
The Socio-Ecological Union organization also operates in Russia. It is a Russian organization that also unites small organizations across the country concerned about environmental issues and climate change. The Socio-Ecological Union employs more young people who seek to draw attention to climate problems not only within their country, but also at the international level. Many of the young representatives of the organization participated in COP26.
Another Russian youth network organization is the CAN (Climate Action Network) division in Russia. The main focus of the organization’s activities is education. In 2021, the organization also launched the Climate Dialogues initiative on the following topics: climate education, renewable energy, climate policy. Youth were invited to participate in the “Climate Dialogues” and express their point of view.
At the local level in Arkhangelsk there is a youth organization “Movement 42”, which together with Greenpeace Russia and other Russian and international ecological organizations conducts climate camps for young people. In such camps, young people who are interested in solving climate change problems gather, and in communication with Russian and international experts form an understanding of current problems and their role in solving them at the regional level.
This Post was submitted by Climate Scorecard Russia Country Manager Michael Oshchepkov
 The Public Opinion Foundation is a Russian organization engaged in conducting sociological research.