As Moscow bakes in record heat, Vladimir Putin changes tune on climate change

Russian president Vladimir Putin, notorious for his scepticism about global warming, has now said that climate change is a priority and vowed to work along with the United States to battle increasing global temperatures, news agency AFP reported on Thursday. The development comes amid a record-breaking heatwave in Russia during June which experts say could lead to the hottest summer that the country has experienced in more than a century.

Moscow is baking in temperatures soaring towards record highs, news agencies reported a day ago, adding that people are heading to lakes to cool off as the heatwave sweeps western Russia. Daytime temperatures in Moscow are forecast at 30-35 degrees Celsius in the coming days and could break record highs on three days this week that have stood since 1936, 1951, and 2010, the RIA news agency reported.

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Taking global warming as a cue, Russian president Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday that his government is willing to work with the US to battling climate change, a rare area of common ground between the nations.

For years Putin was notorious for his scepticism about man-made global warming and saying Russia stands to benefit from it. But in recent months he has also made statements to the effect that climate change is not just a boon to Moscow.

In a phone call with US climate envoy John Kerry on Wednesday, Putin said that Moscow and Washington have “common interests and similar approaches” when it comes to the “climate problem”. He also told the former US secretary of state that Moscow “attaches great importance” to achieving the goals of the Paris Agreement and “advocates de-politicising” dialogue on climate change.

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Moscow registered a temperature of 34.8-degree Celsius last month, the hottest recorded in June in 142 years of monitoring. Last Monday, temperatures in the city reached 31-degree Celsius, reported news agency Reuters, citing weather officials familiar with the matter. “The increase in the frequency of dangerous weather events and in particular heatwaves unavoidably accompany global warming,” a meteorologist at the Moscow state university told the news agency.