Climate and Environment

Russia owes 'whole world' for environment damage: Ukraine

Laurent Thomet - Agence France-Presse
Russia owes 'whole world' for environment damage: Ukraine
A delegate views an interactive Earth globe exhibit during the COP27 climate conference in Egypt's Red Sea resort city of on November 14, 2022.
AFP / Ahmad Gharabli

SHARM EL SHEIKH, Egypt — Russia must take responsibility for the environmental damage caused by its invasion of Ukraine, Kyiv's Environment Minister Ruslan Strilets said Monday at UN climate talks.

Ukraine is launching a platform to evaluate environmental damage caused by Russia's military action, Strilets explained during a news conference on the sidelines of the COP27 summit in the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh.

"Russia must be held responsible not only to Ukraine, but also to the whole world," he said.

Kyiv hopes the new platform will "unify international approaches to... assessing damage to the environment and climate", and that it will also "strengthen international cooperation to restore the environment affected by armed conflicts", Strilets said.

"But the main challenge, and we understand it, is that it will be very difficult for us to file (law)suits for every environmental damage," he said.

Direct emissions as a result of Moscow's invasion are estimated to be equivalent to 33 million tonnes of CO2, while emissions from the expected reconstruction of infrastructure could reach 49 million tonnes of CO2, the minister added.

Strilets said more than 2,200 cases of damage to the environment have been recorded so far.

The invasion which began in February has also resulted in major worldwide food and gas shortages, prompting other countries to seek to ramp up production to fill the gap from the two key exporters.

In July, Strilets told European Union environment ministers that the war had destroyed forests, contaminated water, polluted fields and filled them with mines.

He said Russia's invasion had damaged three million hectares (7.4 million acres) of Ukrainian forests.

The EU environment ministers in turn pledged to help Kyiv.

Czech Minister Anna Hubackova said members of the 27-nation bloc could help with mapping and analysing the damage and providing financial assistance.

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