Ukraine uses COP27 to highlight the environmental cost of the Russian war | Ukraine

Ukraine has used COP27 climate talks to argue that the invasion of Russia is causing an environmental catastrophe as well as a humanitarian one, with fossil fuels a key catalyst for the country’s destruction.

Ukraine has sent two dozen officials to the summit in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, to spell out the links between the war launched by Russia in February, the surge in energy costs due to Russia’s status as a key supplier of gas and the planet … warming emissions expelled from the offensive.

The heavy shelling and the movement of troops and tanks have polluted the air, water and land, said Svitlana Grynchuk, Ukraine’s Deputy Environment Minister, as well as killing thousands and decimating the economy of Ukraine. country. A fifth of Ukraine’s protected areas have been ruined by war, she added, with the contamination of previously fertile soils alone costing 11.4 billion euros (10 billion pounds) in damage.

“This is not just a war, this is state terrorism and it is ecocide,” Grynchuk said. “The invasion killed wildlife, generated pollution and caused social instability. The terrorist state continues to send missiles to our plants. Our environment is threatened by this terrorist attack ”.

War causes emissions, as well as its consequences. Ukraine estimates that the rebuilding of its destroyed towns, cities and industries will cause the emission of nearly 50 million tons of carbon dioxide. “Military emissions in peacetime and in wartime are relevant, they are material,” said Axel Michaelowa, a climate economist who has studied wartime pollution. “The emissions are comparable to those of entire countries”.

The Ukrainian government’s priority remains to garner international support to help expel Russia from its territory. In a video speech to Cop27 delegates and world leaders on Tuesday, President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said that “there can be no effective climate policy without peace”.

But Ukraine is also touting its enthusiasm for a rapid transition to renewable energy, which it said would release the yoke of Russian domination over fossil fuels through which Vladimir Putin has used gas as a pressure point against Europe’s allies. ‘Ukraine. This position was supported at COP27 by John Kerry, the US climate envoy, who said that American and European leaders were “absolutely certain that this will accelerate the transition” to clean energy.

A gloomy pavilion set up by Ukraine in Sharm el-Sheikh looks more like a slate-gray war memorial than the colorful displays set up by other countries for the 30,000 conference delegates.

Different terrain samples that were thrown into the air as Russian bombs hit with a thud in the ground are framed on a wall. On display is a bullet-riddled piece of oak, taken from the suburb of Irpin in Kiev, where the Russian offensive broke a dam that caused the flooding of homes, forests and meadows, according to the exhibition.

Svitlana Krakovska, the leading climate scientist in Ukraine, said there is now a growing understanding that fossil fuels have not only helped finance Putin’s war machine, but that dependence on oil and gas has left countries at the mercy of rising energy and food costs.

“I am happy, at least, that the connection is now clear to many people,” said Krakovska, who was working on a key UN climate report when the war broke out and now has to endure power outages for about 12 hours a day. in Kiev due to a relentless barrage of Russian missiles and drone strikes targeting civilian infrastructure, including energy and water supplies.

In October, a missile landed near his home and shattered the windows of nearby buildings. Vitali Klitschko, mayor of Kiev, called the Russian bombing “genocide” and warned that the city may need to be evacuated if the power outages persist.

“My kids have to go to school in a basement, it’s not fun to spend time there. There is no heating or electricity, sometimes we don’t have water, which is much worse, ”Krakovska said.

“It is difficult to be in Kiev in this situation. That’s a lot of pressure and stress. My husband had a bad situation two weeks ago when he was in the hospital for migraines due to accumulated stress. I was afraid for his life. “

Krakovska said it was difficult to leave Kiev for Egypt – she is there with her daughter, who is now afraid of any plane flying overhead – but she was determined to emphasize the message that Ukraine is a victim of war. of fossil fuels.

“It’s hard to talk about a green transition now that people have nothing to warm up to and winter is coming,” he said. “We will just try to do our best to survive. But we must all realize our dependence on fossil fuels, we must think about energy independence, not only from Russia but from fossil fuels. The most reliable source of energy is the sun and we have to use it ”.

Krakovska said the forests he had studied for climate impact were destroyed by bombs, while agricultural land is now full of mines. This damage is similar, she argues, to the destruction inflicted on developing countries by hurricanes, floods and other climate impacts caused by global warming.

“Of course the kind of destruction is different, but fossil fuels have caused climate change and caused this war,” he said. “Russia has destroyed our lives and destroyed our environment. First, of course, we must stop this war, because we are under attack.

“But then, I’m very sure we’ll find a way to make fossil fuels be in our past. Fossil fuels will therefore be real fossils. Left underground, in their place.

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