Top diplomatic event on climate change and its impact on economy, politics and security, the 27th Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP27) was held in Egypt this year. For Ukraine, the participation in this conference was probably the best chance to communicate along the world leaders, NGO’s and businesses about how to tackle the consequences of climate change, while fighting on a frontline. Let’s analyze from the different perspectives the level of importance of COP27 for Ukrainians and Ukraine.
Climate change touches upon a variety of topics and only some of them are about environment. The diversification of energy system, the protection of critical infrastructure or simply changing the fuel in our cars is a security issue. Ukraine, facing a full-scale Russian invasion for already 9 months, is an example of how security is affecting climate.
Ukraine established its own national pavilion for the first time at the COP27. It became possible with the help of international partners, especially the United Nations Development Program.
Minister of Environmental Protection and Natural Resources of Ukraine Ruslan Strilets stated the following goals of Ukrainian delegation at the COP27:
«Among the important goals that were achieved is the blocking of all Russian efforts to «hybrid» legalize the illegal annexation and occupation of Ukrainian territory.
Thanks to the successful work of the Ukrainian delegation, it was possible to prevent consideration of the reports of the Russian Federation on greenhouse gas emissions, which contain statistics of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol».
Russia has been polluting the territory of occupied Crimea since 2014 and declaring the level of greenhouse gas emissions there for the last 6 years. Ukraine’s ability to provide the green transition was affected by the hostilities in the South of the country (Zaporizhia, Mykolayiv and Kherson regions), where the most renewables were located, 90 % of them were either damaged or destroyed.
Ukrainian civil society was also an integral part of the COP27, which role was to push governments for more actions regards to Russian climate crimes and lower the global dependence from fossil fuels of the Russian Federation.
Yevheniia Zasiadko, Head of climate department, Ecoaction was among those, who advocated for more accountability for Russia.
«One of the main requirements from civil society during the COPs was to stop fossil fuels use, as they are one of the main sources of greenhouse gases. This year Ukraine has also seen a new side of fossil fuel dependence, Russia using income from gas, oil and coal to finance the war against Ukraine. Therefore, civil society from Ukraine before and during COP27 stressed that the world should abandon fossil fuels as soon as possible to stop Russian aggression in Ukraine and to prevent future wars and conflicts» – points out Zasiadko.
«Over the last several years the concept of fight with climate change has become a popular social trend, diluting people’s attention to the central role of the international climate arena. At the end of the day, when delegates from 195 countries get together in the same room, they negotiate two key subjects: national targets for decarbonization of the economy or, in other words, how fast should countries ban fossil fuels and switch to renewable energy sources; and, most importantly, how the energy transition would be financed. Climate negotiations essentially address the same issues as the energy security policy, and therefore national security. They act as an international political platform where countries like Ukraine can defend their national interests» – Marta Trofimova, sustainability manager at Kernel, the world’s leading producer of sunflower oil, on the meaning of the Conferences of Parties.
Deputy Minister of Environmental Protection and Natural Resources of Ukraine for the European integration Svitlana Hrynchuk presented the preliminary numbers of loss and damage for the environment from the Russian full-scale aggression. It’s dimensions could be found in the pollution of air, deforestation and destruction of ecosystems.
The challenges to the nature, mentioned above is a concern of not only Ukraine but also the whole world. Global South is the region, where the Russian propaganda is still manipulating the public opinion through creating the negative image of Ukraine there.
That’s how this problem is characterized by Evheniia Zasiadko: «On November 15, I had an event dedicated to the global impact of the war on energy security in other world regions. Speakers from Nigeria, Colombia and Kenya shared that the war has had a great impact on their countries, with gas extraction in Africa and coal in Colombia increasing.
Using the COP platform, we tried to show that many countries are interested in defeating Russia, and the war affects not only us. The solution to stop the use of fossil fuels from Russia should not be to replace them with fossil fuels from other regions, it carries the risk of other wars».
Moreover, everyone, who visited the Ukrainian national pavilion, could see the damage to the environment with the help of high-tech.
«Another important task for Ukraine at the 27th Climate Conference in Sharm el-Sheikh was to show the world the consequences of Russia’s military aggression for the environment and climate of the entire planet.
In the national pavilion, which Ukraine had for the first time this year, numerous events were held for this purpose, participants from different countries of the world were invited. In addition, everyone who visited the pavilion had the opportunity to personally «touch» the consequences of Russian military aggression for the environment. It can be said that the Ukrainian pavilion was in great demand among a large number of Conference participants» – commented Strilets.
Just not to forget that the COP27 was held in Africa – the region, which is so damaged by the consequences of climate damage, lacked by the engagement from Ukraine to negotiate the cooperation to tackle the fossil fuels together.
Yevheniia Zasiadko see the solution in providing more joint projects with countries beyond Europe: «Ukraine has lack of communication with South America or Africa. Therefore, through the Ukrainian pavilion and events it was possible to tell the truth about the war, for regions that know less about the war and to establish connections with new partners. Achieving the goals of the Paris Agreement will be impossible as long as the war financed by fossil fuels continues».
«At COP27 Ukrainian government delivered an important message to the international community – low-carbon development will be the key principle in Ukraine’s post-war reconstruction. At the end of the day, the central role in both post-war development and decarbonization of the economy will be played by business. For that reason, it is crucial that market players are actively involved in the stakeholders’ dialogue, their specific experience in climate actions is considered and their insights are heard – underscored Trofimova.
Strilets also said that Ukraine raised the question with the establishment of a platform, where information on the climate damage from the wars will be collected in one place.
«Many of the world’s climate leaders in their speeches paid attention to the impact of Russia’s war against Ukraine on the global climate crisis.
That is why, during the COP27, Ukraine took the initiative to create a global platform for assessing the damage to the environment as a result of the war. The global platform should become a platform for international expert cooperation, where unified approaches to determining damage to the environment and climate as a result of armed conflicts will be developed» – commented Strilets.
Ukraine has got the EU candidate status in June. The European Union presented in 2019 the ambitious plan to become the first climate-neutral continent until 2050. The Russian full-scale invasion of Ukraine has accelerated the urgent need of changes in Ukrainian energy system and transforming it into more diversified one, with more renewables but not the prioritizing of the latter.
Minister Strilets is confident that one of part of Ukrainian victory is green recovery:
«Ukraine’s next task was to show that despite Russian military aggression, our country remains committed to its climate goals and continues to make efforts to achieve them. After all, the restoration of industrial, energy and civil infrastructure in Ukraine should take place taking into account climate goals and the goals of green transformation. Undoubtedly, this should be a «green» recovery with a transition to a sustainable competitive economy, given the latest trends in the EU countries».
COP27 was very crucial event for the formation of united Ukrainian position to find the global climate justice for Russian crimes against the environment. Ukraine’s main goal is to integrate sustainable goals of government, civil society and business. World has approved the need to know the real numbers of damage from the climate change. Ukraine is that country, which can help to form the future strategies of climate and security, because the Russian aggression is a proof of how military actions could have the direct impact on the environment.
supported by: International Media Support (IMS) Consortium of the Veteran Organization of the East (CVOE)