In November, the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, known as COP27, took place. This year it was overshadowed by Russia’s military intervention in Ukraine. The sanctions that followed Russia’s invasion and the escalation of the most significant international confrontation since the Cold War have called the achievement of the main goal of climate policy – limiting the increase in surface temperature at 1.5-2˚ Celsius – into question. It has become unclear how countries will reach agreement in a situation where one of the main greenhouse gas emitters (Russia) is carrying out a military invasion of a neighboring state. Against the backdrop of this war, less attention and fewer resources are devoted to the climate issue, and the world’s energy sector and food markets are being restructured.
The topic of the war did not take center stage at the meeting in Sharm el-Sheikh. Countries did agree on the creation of a financial “Loss and Damage” compensation fund for the states most affected by climate change and that lack the financial ability to adapt to it. However, when it came to new targets for reducing emissions or gradually reducing fossil fuel use, the summit did not bring major breakthroughs.
One way or another, the war was a topic of conversation at COP27. It was certainly a theme at Ukraine’s pavilion, the presence of which was a first for the summit.
Special for UWEC Work Group, Tetiana Zhavzharova of Ukrainian Climate Network analyzed the main events held at Ukraine’s pavilion. It was the first time that volumes of additional greenhouse gas emissions caused by the military invasion were presented, amounting to 82.8 million tons of CO2. This figure is comparable to the total emissions of some individual nations and is a preliminary calculation. Additionally, these numbers stem from monitoring on only the Ukrainian side; Russia does not publish its data.
Ukraine’s recovery was also a topic of discussion at its pavilion. Such a plan must be based not only on “green” solutions, such as energy independence, sustainable economy, and renewable energy, but also on the principles of a just transition and gender equality.
Unlike Ukraine, the Russian delegation was remembered not so much for its thoughts about the future, but for its unwillingness to give up the past. Maintaining a low profile at the summit and avoiding loud statements or their own separate pavilion, Russian representatives reaffirmed their unwillingness to abandon carbon fuel, lobbied for nuclear energy, and generally made rather ambiguous statements, including calling the human impact on climate change into question, as well as proposing to play hockey on an icebreaker ship in Antarctica.
The Russian delegation’s main COP27 presentation took place on the same day that Ukraine’s civilian infrastructure came under the heaviest shelling. Many homes, hospitals, sewage treatment plants, businesses, and other facilities were left without power. As a result of this and subsequent attacks, all of Ukraine’s nuclear power plants were forced to temporarily switch to emergency mode. This juxtaposition of Russia’s actions was one of the reasons for civil society protests against Russia during the summit. Svitlana Romanko, Founder and Director of Razom We Stand, was an active participant. We are pleased to share the transcript of her interview on the Eurasian Climate Brief podcast.
We invited UWEC Work Group Co-editor Angelina Davydova to summarize the results of COP27. Although the war was not on the summit agenda, it is clear that it influenced a number of decisions. Fears of an energy crisis prevented countries from making a more ambitious decision to move away from fossil fuels. Gas extraction in Africa was also an urgent topic at the summit, as the war and resulting sanctions provoke increased resource extraction around the world. The Russian invasion is the “elephant in the room” that many try to ignore, despite its direct effect on global climate policy.
We will continue to monitor the war’s environmental consequences on both our website, on Twitter and Facebook pages. Join the conversation!
Wishing you strength and peace!
Editor, UWEC Work Group