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Transport, Infrastructure and Building Russia



Among all the identified types of natural hazards, hydrometeorological hazards such as heavy snowfalls and rains, floods and ice phenomena, as well as dangerous exogenous slope processes including snow avalanches, debris flows, landslides, and rockfalls, have the largest contributions to transport accidents and disruptions in Russia. The most dangerous is the combination of heavy precipitation and strong winds. In the period 1992 to 2018, the majority of emergency situations due to natural hazards occurred from November to March (> 67 %) (18).

Road transport: In the period 1992 to 2018, more than 20 % of the registered road accidents and traffic disruptions were caused by the impacts of various natural hazards. The majority of all the emergencies revealed (almost 73 %) happened during the cold season from November to March. A significant increase in their number occurred during abrupt changes in weather conditions, such as heavy precipitation, temperature drops, and icing. Emergency situations caused by snow-related natural hazards were most frequent and most common (18). 

Railway transport: In the Russian Federation, railway transportation accounts for > 80 % of the freight turnover of all types of transport (without pipelines) and > 40 % of the passenger traffic of public transport in long-distance and suburban communications. More than 7 % of all railway accidents and failures registered were triggered by natural factors. Most emergency situations were caused by snowdrifts and washout or flooding of railway tracks due to heavy rains or floods, as well as by the slope processes such as landslides, snow avalanches, debris flows and rockfalls (18). 

Air transport: The adverse weather conditions and other natural hazard impacts caused more than 8 % of all registered air transport accidents and traffic disruptions. The majority of emergency situations were caused by a combination of heavy snow and strong winds (18).

Water transport: Water transport includes both sea and river transport. Almost 16 % of all the registered water transport accidents were caused by various natural hazards (18).


For the foreseeable future, the core of Russia’s economy will remain oil and gas. This in turn means that Russia’s economy is highly vulnerable to climate change impacts that affect the current or future operations of the petroleum sector. Many areas that are currently the focus of exploration and production activity will be more difficult to exploit (1).

Pipeline and rail transportation systems that cross major rivers and permafrost will be subjected to unprecedented stresses and strains, many of which were not anticipated when initial design parameters were established. Critical new upstream development areas, such as the Yamal Peninsula, will be more complicated to reach by land and harder to develop in the face of thawing permafrost and shorter winter seasons (1).

At present, in addition to thousands of producing oil and gas wells, Russia has roughly 50,000 kilometers of oil pipelines and roughly 150,000 kilometers of gas pipelines, most of which were constructed in the 1980s under Soviet rule. …. The core climate-related vulnerability facing oil and gas pipeline systems is that these systems were designed and built with the presumption of a stable climate. The thousands of river crossings did not provide margins of error to accommodate the increased water flow that will result from climate change by 2030 (1).

In addition to climate-related risks for river crossings, oil and gas pipelines and other facilities are at risk in permafrost regions. In these areas, pipelines and other structures are typically constructed above ground to allow thermal insulation to avoid thawing the soil. In the period to 2030, however, these regions will experience deeper seasonal thawing, resulting in structural subsidence and weakened integrity of pipelines and other petroleum-industry installations (1).

Supplies that will need to be brought in by land will require the construction of new roads and rail links, which will be tricky with the growth of thermokarst. Previous techniques, like the use of seasonal ice roads will be more problematic due to the shorter cold season (1,7). New above-ground pipelines and other elevated installations will have to be constructed using deeper foundations to avoid structural damage from subsidence (1).


The changing climate has the potential regionally to increase premature deterioration and weathering impacts on the built environment, exacerbating vulnerabilities to climate extremes and disasters and negatively impacting the expected and useful life spans of structures (8).  


Small increases in climate extremes above thresholds or regional infrastructure ‘tipping points’ have the potential to result in large increases in damages to all forms of existing infrastructure nationally and to increase disaster risks (9). Since infrastructure systems, such as buildings, water supply, flood control, and transportation networks often function as a whole or not at all, an extreme event that exceeds an infrastructure design or ‘tipping point’ can sometimes result in widespread failure and a potential disaster (10).

Benefits of climate change

Projections of Arctic marine access

Since the 1980s, the extent of older, thicker multiyear ice has decreased by ca 15% per decade, driven especially by reductions in March (declining from ca 75% to 45 %) and September (ca 60 % to ca 15 %) (13). A short period of ice-free conditions in summer has been projected as early as 2030 (17) and as late as 2100 (14).

Projections have been made of 21st-century Arctic marine access for the early (2011–2030), mid-(2046–2065), and late-21st century (2080–2099); assuming Polar Class 3 (PC3), Polar Class 6 (PC6), and open-water vessels (OW) with high, medium, and no ice-breaking capability, respectively (15). These projections are based on sea ice simulations for three climatic forcing scenarios (4.5, 6.0, and 8.5 W/m2; defined in IPCC Fifth Assessment Report); these scenarios are roughly correlative to the IPCC SRES scenarios B1, A1B, and A2, respectively (16). The projections are compared with the baseline period 1980–1999. Results suggest substantial areas of the Arctic will become newly accessible to Polar Class 3, Polar Class 6, and open-water vessels, rising from ca 54%, 36%, and 23%, respectively of the circumpolar International Maritime Organization Guidelines Boundary area in the late 20th century to ca 95%, 78%, and 49%, respectively by the late 21st century. Of the five Arctic Ocean coastal states, Russia experiences the greatest percentage access increases to its exclusive economic zone, followed by Greenland/Denmark, Norway, Canada and the U.S (15).

The impact on three potential shipping routes was assessed: Northwest Passage, Northern Sea Route, and Trans-Polar Route. Along the Northern Sea Route, July-October navigation season length averages ca 120, 113, and 103 days for PC3, PC6, and OW vessels, respectively by late-century, with shorter seasons but substantial increases along the Northwest Passage and Trans-Polar Route (15).

Trans-Arctic navigation is likely to remain a summertime phenomenon. The Arctic marine environment is likely to be fully or partially ice-covered 6–8 months each year for the first half of the century, and no climate model projects an ice-free Arctic in winter by 2100 (12).

Adaptation strategies in Russia


Soviet-era panel-style buildings are an important consideration when planning for climate change in the region. Most block flats, which were designed to have a lifespan of about thirty years, already were in disrepair at the time the regimes fell (1). Bulgaria, for instance, recently indicated that 10% of its panel dwellings were in need of urgent repairs (1) while the Slovak Ministry of Construction estimated that it would cost over 10.3 billion Euros and take more than thirty years to complete the structural repairs necessary to ensure the safety of these buildings (2).

Although they are in need of basic renovation, there is growing evidence that panel buildings, both block flats used for housing and public buildings of similar construction, have the potential to be efficiently renovated and to incorporate energy-saving retrofits. The major aspects of retrofitting focus on energy-saving measures. These include thermal insulation, replacement windows, and modernization of central heating systems. In addition to these measures, green roofing is being tested as a further means for improving the quality of living spaces as well as a way to manage fluctuations in precipitation. Studies suggest that rooftop gardens:

  • help to control interior temperature, by decreasing the heat entering and exiting a building through the roof, and thus reduce energy demand (3). Widespread introduction of gardens will add to urban greenspace and, in the process, help moderate heat island effects.
  • can reduce the level of runoff and moderate the potential of flooding during heavy rainfall (3,4).
  • assist in harvesting rainwater. The basic idea is that rainwater is filtered into storage tanks and then used for non-potable activities such as laundry, toilets, and watering plants (5).

Climate change will require changes in building codes and standards where they exist (11).


The references below are cited in full in a separate map 'References'. Please click here if you are looking for the full references for Russia.

  1. US National Intelligence Council (2009)
  2. Iliev and Yuksel (2004), in: Carmin and Zhang (2009)
  3. CiJ (2008), in: Carmin and Zhang (2009)
  4. Bass and Baskaran (2001), in: Carmin and Zhang (2009)
  5. Hadley and Carter (2006), in: Carmin and Zhang (2009)
  6. Carmin and Zhang (2009)
  7. Mirvis (1999), in: IPCC (2012)
  8. Auld (2008b); Larsen et al. (2008); Stewart et al. (2011), all in: IPCC (2012)
  9. Coleman (2002); Munich Re (2005); Auld (2008b); Larsen et al. (2008); Kwadijk et al. (2010); Mastrandrea et al. (2010), all in: IPCC (2012)
  10. Ruth and Coelho (2007); Haasnoot et al. (2009), both in: IPCC (2012)
  11. Bourrelier et al. (2000); Füssel (2007); Wilby (2007); Auld (2008b); Stevens (2008); Hallegatte (2009), all in: IPCC (2012)
  12. ACIA (2004a); Stroeve et al. (2012a), both in: Stephenson et al. (2013)
  13. Maslanik et al. (2011); Comiso (2012); Polyakov et al. (2012), all in: Stephenson et al. (2013)
  14. Boe et al. (2009), in: Stephenson et al. (2013)
  15. Stephenson et al. (2013)
  16. Van Vuuren et al. (2011); Vavrus et al. (2012), both in: Stephenson et al. (2013)
  17. Wang and Overland (2009), in: Stephenson et al. (2013)
  18. Petrova (2020)