Putin now also worst forest killer as he destroys efforts to fight climate change

There can be no effective climate policy without peace on Earth: Ukraine’s Volodymyr Zelensky.

Thu 19 Jan 23


Vladmir Putin’s war in Ukraine has destroyed more than 2.5 million ha of forests in less than six months, President Volodymyr Zelensky told the recent UN’s Cop27 climate summit.

Addressing delegates in Egypt in a video message, the Ukrainian president accused Russia of hampering and distracting from global efforts to combat climate breakdown – warning that “there can be no effective climate policy without peace on Earth”.

As world leaders grappled with how to control the fossil fuel emissions heating the planet, Mr Zelensky alleged that the energy crisis exacerbated by Russia’s invasion has “forced dozens of countries to resume coal-fired power generation in order to lower energy prices for their people”.

Half of Ukraine’s own green energy capacity is now located in Russian-held territory, Maxim Timchenko, head of Ukraine’s largest energy producer DTEK, told the summit, as he warned that the nation faced “one of the most difficult winters in the history of Ukraine”.

Russia has stepped up its destruction of civilian infrastructure in recent weeks in the face of increasingly threatening Ukrainian counter-assaults, and the besieged nation has overall “lost about 90% of wind capacity, which is on occupied territory, and about 30% of solar”, Timchenko said.

Moscow’s forces have also sparked global alarm after seizing the Zaporizhzia nuclear power plant – the largest in Europe – and Mr Zelensksy appealed to world leaders to help “stop those who, with their insane and illegal war, are destroying the world’s ability to work united for a common goal”.

He added: “Who will care, for example, about the amount of the greenhouse gases in the atmosphere if part of Europe or the Middle East and possibly Northern Africa, God forbid, are covered by radiation cloud after an accident in Zaporizhzhia?”

The Ukrainian president also accused Russia of sparking an acute global food crisis, “which hit worst those suffering the existing manifestations of climate change”.

Last week, Moscow briefly suspended its involvement in a deal allowing ships carrying grain exports to leave Ukraine – one of the world’s largest producers – over what it alleged was a “terrorist” drone attack on its Black Sea fleet.

The deal, brokered with the help of the United Nations and Turkey, is credited with moving nine million tonnes of grain and easing global food shortages. But it is set to expire in a few weeks and the Kremlin said on Tuesday it had not yet decided whether to extend the agreement.

Ukrainian authorities have also previously accused Russia’s forces of burning large areas of crops, granaries and agricultural equipment in its vast and fertile Kherson region – and of refusing to allow residents there to put out fires.


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