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Climate is the statistical description of average size and variability of the corresponding quantitative parameters (first of all, temperature and rainfall) during time period which can vary from several months to thousands or millions of years. By definition of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), the classical period for averaging of these variables is considered 30 years.

The problem of climate change has been included in the political agenda of the international community in the mid-80s of the XX century. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has been founded in 1988 by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) with an assignment to estimate the scientific information relating to the climate change problem. Same year the United Nations General Assembly for the first time considered the climate change issue and adopted the resolution 43/53 "On protection of global climate for the benefit of present and future generations of mankind". In 1990 the IPCC issued the First assessment report in which it confirmed the threat of climate change and called for preparation of the special global agreement on the solution of this problem. The appeal of scientists was supported by the Resolution of the United Nations General Assembly 45/212 on the basis of which the Framework UN Convention on Climate Change (FCCC) was developed in 1992, and the Kyoto Protocol in 1997. The Russian Federation has ratified both of these documents in 1994 and in 2004, respectively.

Nearly 200 countries have supported extension of the protocol which first stage of action was finished on December 31, 2012. However only 15% of emissions of harmful substances in the atmosphere make the share of the countries ratifying extension of the treaty. Meanwhile the USA, China, India, Japan, Russia and also Canada which has officially withdrawn from the treaty in 2011, have refused to participate in the new period of obligations under the treaty.

Climate change, according to the terminology accepted in the Fourth IPCC assessment report is the change of climate conditions which can be defined (for example, by statistical study) on the basis of change of average values and/or variability of its properties and which remains during the long period, as a rule, several decades or longer. It reflects any climate change happening in time, whether it would be owing to natural variability or as the result of human activity. This term differs from the one used by FCCC where climate change meant change which is directly or indirectly caused by human activity causing changes in structure of the global atmosphere and imposed on the natural variability of climate observed for the comparable periods of time. According to FCCC terminology, observed global climate changes are connected with abnormal growth of concentration in the atmosphere of so-called greenhouse gases: carbon dioxide (CO2) – up to 80% of emissions, methane (CH4), nitrogen dioxide (N2O), hydrofluorocarbons (GFU), perfluorocarbons (PFU), sulfur hexafluoride (SF6). Basic scenarios of emissions were published by IPCC in the Special report on scenarios of emissions in 2000.

Experience of other countries, regions and cities which now are planning for adaptation represents the source of valuable practices and methodologies for Russia. Thus, in Finland the National adaptation strategy was accepted and adopted in 2005, in Denmark and Germany – in 2008. Estonia and Latvia are now on their way to acceptance of the strategy. The first documents on climate change consequences have been published in Sweden and Norway in 2007 and 2010, respectively. Development of climate change adaptation strategies in Lithuania and Poland is now at an early stage.

Fundamentals of policy relating to climate change and its consequences were laid in the Climatic doctrine of the Russian Federation approved by the Order of the President of the Russian Federation on December 17, 2009. Today in St. Petersburg the draft of the regional document is being developed, defining the main climate change adaptation principles – "The climate strategy of St. Petersburg".

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