Effects of the Russia-Ukraine War on Global Climate Change

The unexpected climate impact has occurred of the war between Russia-Ukraine. It has led the world to unprecedented large-scale human displacement, insecurity, climate vulnerability, and increased social unrest. The Russian aggression began the war on Friday, 24, 2022. It has been killed 7,200 Ukrainian civilians, and 9 million have migrated to other parts of the world. The war between Russia-Ukraine is an existential threat to Ukraine, and vulnerability was at its peak. Particularly, it has also caused effects on climate change. The United Nations Conventions on Climate Change (COP26) has discussed among 197 countries to pledge to cut down the global carbon emissions, and COP27 will take place in the Egyptian city of Sharm-al-sheikh and will discuss future climate actions. 

An independent research paper published by Chatham House for the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) declared from the past several years that Russia has weaponized its energy supplies and has halted gas delivery in many countries across Europe. In 2022, Russia declared war on Ukraine, destroying the power generation and heating infrastructure across the whole region. It has harmed the Arctic region by installing military set-ups which have endangered the global climate. The war caused a massive global climate crisis; during the first seven months, it released 100 million tonnes of carbon into the atmosphere. All these things increased the source of methane which is a potential cause of global climate change. The horrific isolation of Russia and relative aggression undoubtedly impacted the future of the global climate. 

Russia is a permanent member of the UN Security Council, and it has historically resisted the security council’s efforts to address climate change issues. NATO and EU climate policies are affected by the Russian war. In that scenario, all countries are looking to India and China’s home-grown energy. China is currently the world’s top emitter, aiming to reach net zero by 2060.

On the other hand, India is planning to reach the net zero goal a decade later than China. But it has historically low carbon emissions. Since the war began, China is imported more fossil fuels from Russia. Also, it has boosted its coal facilities and infrastructure. However, the country has prioritized green energy and slashed its fossil fuels. India will need $233 billion to meet its clean energy 2030 targets. China and India are looking to ramp up coal production and cut off imports from other countries. Still, Russia has a cheaper oil market than the West. India is heavily working to grow its renewable energy. Simultaneously, China is trying to make clean green energy. NATO countries are also looking towards India and China’s green power development.

However, countries of the West, Germany, France, and parts of the EU depending on Russia’s fossil fuels energy have also suffered due to war. Eventually, it has caused a lack of global energy distribution and policies. The total carbon emission has been unstabilized across the region. The war has given a potential opportunity to Russia– one geopolitical feature is it is one of the giant gas, oil, and coal distributors. The emerging economies and the West have purchased it, and billions and millions of dollars have been transferred to the Russian economy, fattening its war mechanism to the Ukrainians. However, the West is trying to subvert Russia’s economy, and they are trying to target to eliminate Russian gas and oil exports. 

According to the UN Environment Programme Data, the war has damaged the majority of the region of the country, nuclear power plants, energy facilities, energy infrastructure, oil storage tankers, oil refiners, disruption pipelines, mines, and agro-related infrastructure. Due to the war, more than 200 million forest has been destroyed. Russia’s terrible attack on Zaporizhzhia nuclear power station, including nine other nuclear power plants, has unleashed by them. All these major incidents have strongly impacted and increased the vulnerability of the global climate. As a result, the environmental devastation was huge led by the war. IPCC and its researchers and policymakers have devastatingly agreed that no one is unaffected by climate change that has come to pass. More than half of the world’s population has been affected by climate change, and most weaker countries will deal with vulnerability. The war in Ukraine has primarily affected global climate change. The war created the second-highest number of refugees across Europe after the Second World War. 

The Research has been published by the New York University School of Law has defined how the ongoing war between Russia-Ukraine will develop the future of climate security and energy policy. No one knows how long the war will be going on and how the world will maintain the Paris Climate goals alive. To keep the goal alive, all countries should work and build on new technologies, green hydrogen, floating offshore wind, and technology. Climate change needs transformational energy actions to reshape the world. As The UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said – “ The world still needs a giant leap on climate ambition.” 

Shreya Shaw
Shreya is an India-based independent researcher and former Master's student of Politics and International Studies from Pondicherry Central University, India. She is working on Climate Change, Women, and South Asia. She served as a policy research analyst at Indian Political Action Committee (I-PAC) in India.
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