For the sake of all humanity, the world must take action on climate change, Putin says, proposing a plan to conserve Russia’s vast wildlands.

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In a speech to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity on Tuesday, the Russian leader revealed government plans to create the almost two dozen reservations, spanning multiple regions. Putin argued that, due to the “colossal absorbing capabilities of Russian forests”, the country’s contribution to combating climate change is significant and must be protected.

“Russia accounts for 20% of the world’s forest reserves, and we will improve the quality of forest management, including taking additional measures to combat wildfires and reforestation,” the president said. A spate of blazes have seen immense swathes of woodland in Siberia and the Far East charred in recent months, with emergency workers fighting the fires from the air.

Pointing to the fact that around a quarter of Russia’s land area is now protected by environmental legislation, Putin called on other nations to follow suit and step up to help preserve the natural world.

“The problems of nature conservation cannot be successfully solved by one single country – this is the business of all states and, without exaggerating, of all mankind. We fully support the idea of forming closer international cooperation on all pressing issues of protecting flora and fauna, protecting the atmosphere and water resources,” he said.

Putin has previously blamed the series of wildfires, as well as catastrophic flooding, on climate change. According to him, the freak weather conditions are “at least to a large extent due to global climate change in our nation.”

In August, officials said that around 170,000 square kilometers – an area about the size of the US state Florida – had been burned by wildfires this year. The same month, around 300 fires were said to be raging at the same time, with the worst of the blaze affecting Russia’s Yakutia region.

In 2019, rescuers and volunteers battled to save stranded animals from rising flood levels in several regions of Russia’s Far East. At least 37 settlements were partially flooded in Amur Region and the Jewish Autonomous Oblast. The same year, 12 people died and thousands were left homeless after floods ravaged the Russian Siberian region of Irkutsk.

In July, Putin told US climate envoy John Kerry that Russia and the US have “common interests” when it comes to combating climate change in a move to team up against global warming, and the pair agreed to work together to improve the global response to its threats.

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