Home Financial responsibility War in Ukraine poses environmental risk now and in the future, advocates say

War in Ukraine poses environmental risk now and in the future, advocates say

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Good morning! It is Vanessa Montalbano, the Climate 202 researcher, writes the top of the newsletter today. Below, a pipeline leak in Texas would have the same climate impact as the annual emissions of 16,000 cars. But first :

War in Ukraine poses environmental risk now and in the future, advocates say

As Russian forces bombard communities across Ukraine, the nation’s once vibrant ecosystems are increasingly scorched and scarred, rewinding decades of conservation work, according to Ukrainian climate advocates.

Svitlana Romanko, a Ukrainian climate justice activist and former professor of environmental law, told The Climate 202 that the consequences of post-war environmental and biodiversity damage will be felt for years.

“Ukraine has been badly damaged and destroyed and there are cities that don’t even exist anymore,” Romanko said. “Every night, missiles and bombs continue to fly through Ukrainian territory, so these are also natural disasters.”

Nearly a third of the country’s protected waters and lands have been occupied by Russian forces, leaving the Ukrainian government and environmentalists in the dark about climate risks or how the land might have been damaged.

“We hesitate to collect [climate impact data] now, and it’s a bit difficult to do it because of the war. All information is closed,” said Evgenia Zasyadkoclimate policy coordinator for Ecoaction, a Ukrainian environmental organization. “We don’t know what’s going on there.”

Of particular concern is the eastern part of Ukraine, home to industrial infrastructure such as oil depots, coal mines and nuclear power plants, Zasyadko said. Without human regulation, each site could potentially spill fuel and leak toxic planet-warming pollutants into villages, water supplies and the atmosphere.

According to Ukraine Ministry of Energy and Environmental Protectionmore than 1,500 Russian missiles have been launched at Ukraine so far, and more than 5,000 units of various Russian military equipment have been destroyed – all also spilling unchecked amounts of chemicals and greenhouse gases in the air and the ground.

A “war fueled by fossil fuels”

While Russia’s invasion of Ukraine was an unlikely turning point for climate activism, advocates on the ground say phasing out fossil fuel use could reduce devastating climate consequences, while disrupting Russia’s oil-dominated economy.

Romanko argues that without its fossil fuel industry, Russia would not be able to fund the war in Ukraine, adding that much of Russia’s wealth and power comes from its oil and gas exports.

“It’s about energy security, the climate crisis and the war in Ukraine that have the same roots and therefore the same solution,” she said. “It’s a matter of justice. I really want to end the war in my country. We are tired of fossil fuel fueled wars and hostile climate wars.

Oleg Savitskyenergy and policy specialist Ukrainian Climate Networkagreed with Romanko, adding that Russia should be removed from all international groups for disrupting the peace and committing acts of terrorism against both civilians and the environment as a method of warfare.

The act would directly affect Russia’s fossil fuel shipments, according to Savitsky, which he says allows the Kremlin to build its “war machine.”

The Ukrainian climate network plans to call the The United Nations at the Stockholm +50 meeting in June about their fossil fuel non-proliferation treaty to produce an international response to end the expansion of new fossil fuel production, phase out existing production and allow a global just transition to low-emission energy systems.

The meeting, which marks the 50th anniversary of the first-ever international summit on the environment, is a unique opportunity to initiate a globally coordinated effort to combine warming goals with climate justice, compelling rich countries to provide finance and technology to developing countries like Ukraine. , Savitsky said.

“I think we’re now at the breaking point of a global energy and climate policy trajectory and it’s all very much about the war response,” he said.

“Climate policy is doomed if we don’t tackle the central problem, which is the extraction of fossil fuels.”

In a combined effort with the ministry, Zasyadko said she had counted at least 139 cases of what she called “environmental war crimes” committed by Russia during the invasion, which she hopes the country will be charged with and mandated to pay. by the International Criminal Court.

“The number very likely could be much higher,” Zasyadko said. “The real assessment can only take place when Russia leaves Ukrainian territory and we can go in and assess what kind of harm it has really caused us.”

According to the UN Office for Genocide Prevention and the Responsibility to Protect and the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Courta war crime includes launching an attack knowing that it would cause loss of civilian life or “widespread, long-lasting and severe damage to the natural environment which would be manifestly excessive in relation to the concrete and overall military advantage”. live expected.

Romanko noted that proving an environmental crime in court is extremely difficult because you must have proof of causation as well as documented damage to determine reimbursement. But, she added, it is doable.

She said oversight by Zasyadko and the ministry is key to determining what the financial responsibility or punishment for environmental crimes should be down the line.

In terms of rebuilding Ukraine after the war, Savitsky said a “Green Marshall Plan,” similar to what was enacted after World War II, should be adopted internationally to accelerate Ukraine’s clean energy transition while taking into account the layers of societal upheaval caused by war.

During post-war recovery, Savitsky said, it would be easy to rely on fossil fuels again to restore buildings, agriculture and industry, but that would ignore climate goals.

“We will need a complete overhaul of Ukraine’s economy, which is very energy-intensive and focused on the production of raw materials,” Savitsky said. “Ukraine must become a new industrial and renewable energy hub for Europe, but based on clean technologies.”

“It requires the scale of investment only compared to rebuilding Europe after World War II, so we really need a green Marshall Plan for Ukraine,” he said.

Unregulated Texas Pipeline Leaks Massive Amount of Methane

In just over an hour, a gas pipeline in Texas leaked enough methane that, by one estimate, its climate impact was equivalent to the annual emissions of about 16,000 cars, according to Bloomberg. Aaron Clark and Naureen S. Malik report.

The pipeline was a small part of a large network of unregulated pipelines – known as gathering lines – that connect production fields and other sites to larger transmission lines across the United States.

The incident, which happened on March 17, underscores that even tiny parts of this network can have a major climate impact. It comes as new federal reporting requirements for collection lines are due to take effect next month.

LP Energy Transferwhich operates the line through its ETC Texas Pipeline Ltd. unit, said an investigation into the cause of the leak was underway. The company added that it has notified all the appropriate regulatory bodies.

Methane, the main component of natural gas, breaks down faster than carbon dioxide, but is about 80 times more effective at trapping heat in its first 20 years in the atmosphere.

Court declines to consider certificate issue involving Mo. Pipeline

the Supreme Court Monday refused to reconsider a lower court’s decision to remove a federal certificate for the building already constructed Pipeline Spire STL in Missouri, Bloomberg Law’s Mayan Counts reports.

Pipeline Spire STL and Missouri Arrow asked the judges to intervene after the United States Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit thrown away the certificate of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commissionjudging that the commission had not demonstrated the need for the project.

Homes and businesses in the St. Louis area could experience natural gas outages without the project, the businesses warned before the Supreme Court.

Scott Smithpresident of the pipeline, said in a statement that although he was “disappointed” with the judges’ decision, the project will continue to operate under the temporary certificate the commission issued in December.

Hundreds dead and dozens missing after floods in South Africa

More than 440 people have died and dozens are missing after torrential rains triggered severe flooding in eastern South Africa, Danielle Paquettethe Washington Post’s West Africa bureau chief, writes in a photo report showing the devastation.

When the South African President Cyril Ramaphosa visited the hardest hit areas last week, he blamed the flooding on climate change. Scientists warn that extreme storms will become more frequent as the world warms.

Congo logging audit raises concerns over forest protection deal

A report on logging in the Democratic Republic of Congo raises concern among environmentalists over a $500 million forest protection deal announced at the The United Nations last autumn’s climate summit, the Guardian’s patrick greenfield and Fiona Harvey report.

The long-awaited report, released this month by the Congolese government, found that six successive ministers had illegally granted logging companies permission to fell trees 18 times, breaching a 20-year moratorium on new logging in the region. second largest rainforest on the planet.

The audit comes after the British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Congolese President Felix Tshisekedi signed an agreement at the summit, known as COP26, committing $500 million to protect important forests and peatlands, including $260 million to preserve the Congo Basin.

A Washington Post investigation previously revealed that the Congo is home to the largest expanse of tropical peatlands on the planet, and that disturbing this peatland could release a massive “carbon bomb” into the atmosphere.