How the Russian war affects the global environmental agenda

The impact of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on biodiversity and climate was not part of the official agenda at two major United Nations environmental conferences recently, but on the sidelines of both the fallout from the war popped up in large numbers. These discussions showed that far from going beyond the global environmental agenda, the war in Ukraine has in fact created a new set of challenges and forced a reassessment of the shift to renewables.

In the months following the invasion, climate issues seemed to be backing off the agenda and funding for emissions-reduction programs (primarily in developing countries) would decline, in part due to a sharp increase in defense spending by Western countries, which led to a Slow down carbon removal.

But recent summits have shown that these fears are greatly exaggerated. There is an increase accident affiliate bonding Between the war in Ukraine, climate change, energy and food security issues, the destruction of ecosystems, and the reduction of biodiversity.

Arguably, some of the consequences of the war have affected the climate agenda. First, global energy markets are undergoing transformations: many countries have changed their oil and gas suppliers, are hastily building liquefied natural gas infrastructure, reopening coal-fired power plants, considering extending the life of nuclear power plants (or building new ones), and investment in new fossil fuel projects.

Meanwhile, the medium and long-term trends remain unchanged: the importance and share of renewable energy sources Keep growing. Investment in this sector is increasing, as is its role in providing energy security, and technologies are becoming cheaper and more efficient.

Second, war is reshaping global food and fertilizer markets. Multiple countries now Planning To expand grain production and obtain raw materials for fertilizer production, which poses a threat to ecosystems and biodiversity.

Third, cuts in mineral supplies from Ukraine, along with partial sanctions and restrictions on supplies from Russia transformation Global Metals. Some of the changes affect the extraction of minerals required for global decarbonization and the energy transition, including steel, aluminum, lithium, nickel, copper, and rare earth metals.

Sanctions and trade barriers have called Russia’s climate policies into question, and there is a clear desire to go green legislation And to relax various other environment Grammar and regulations.

Despite this, the Russian government continues to pass climate legislation and rules on carbon regulation, and new projects are being launched, such as Experiment – did experiments With it going carbon neutral by the end of 2025 on Sakhalin Island in Russia’s Far East.

Companies adhere to emissions reduction targets and ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) measures. Events dedicated to climate, decarbonization and sustainable development are still held regularly, despite the international focus Transformation To experience Asia, the Middle East and other BRICS countries.

At the UN’s COP27 climate conference in Egypt, representatives of Russian companies – especially the atomic energy agency Rosatom – spoke out against neo-colonialism along with representatives from the Global South. Using rhetoric about building a multipolar world, the Russian authorities have tried to bring non-Western countries to their side, sometimes using the carrot of technological cooperation on green issues.

This amounts to a paradoxical situation, with Russia increasingly leaning towards anti-Western rhetoric on the one hand and vocally defending the need for a “sovereign green agenda”, while on the other hand, condemnation Exclusion of individual countries from the global climate dialogue and calls for Lift sanctions and trade restrictions on low-carbon technologies and commodities for the energy transition.

Russia continues to stress the important role its ecosystems play in resolving climate and biodiversity issues, an assertion routinely criticized by environmentalists who accuse Moscow of reluctance to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in other sectors or develop its own renewable energy industry. .

It is also worth noting that at COP27 Russia prevented a mention of cutting fossil fuels or increasing the share of renewable energy in the closing statement, claiming that its position stems from its support for developing countries.

Russia continues to support “technology neutrality,” arguing that each country should have the right to decide for itself how best to reduce emissions. On the part of Moscow, this seems to entail mainly developing nuclear and gas energy and relying on its vast forests to absorb its emissions.

Recent UN summits show that Russia remains interested in green diplomacy, something it has been working on since 2014. After the annexation of Crimea and ensuing sanctions, country representatives suddenly showed much more interest in the green aspects of international cooperation, seeing them as an opportunity to continue dialogue while getting Finance and new technologies.

Now, however, Russia’s problems with access to green technologies and international financing It will only grow. Any new partners Moscow finds are likely to be more interested in preferential access to Russia’s natural resources than in high-tech cooperation on green development.

Institute of Economic Forecasting, part of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Expect Russia’s ability to cut greenhouse gas emissions will almost halve by 2050, mainly due to technological limitations. If true, that wouldn’t necessarily prevent Russia from achieving carbon neutrality by 2060, which it might happen as a result of the economic recession.

A lower GDP, a lower share of Russia in the global economy, and a shrinking population are all factors that can significantly reduce Russia’s greenhouse gas emissions. Indeed, we may witness a repeat of the 1990s, when Russian emissions fell by more than 30%—more than the amount required of Moscow under the Kyoto Protocol—due to a sharp decline in post-Soviet industrial production. But this cannot be considered true carbon removal.

This article was originally published Written by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

The opinions expressed in the opinion articles do not necessarily reflect the position of The Moscow Times.

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