Some of the less obvious side effects of Russia’s illegal war on Ukraine are its impact on global environmental pollution. And while it is beyond doubt that the war is an existential threat for Ukraine, it is also compounding the degradation of the environment and creating enormous new problems that may affect the global environment long into the future.
According to Chatham House, an independent policy institute based in London, the war has directly caused the release of some 100 million tons of carbon into the atmosphere within the initial seven months of fighting.
At the same time, wide-spread deforestation across Ukraine and uncontrolled forest fires have released enormous amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere while damage to Ukraine’s renewable energy systems has severely impaired future carbon sequestration.
“The war in Ukraine is having a terrible impact on the environment,” said Monica Medina, Assistant Secretary of State for Oceans and International Environmental And Scientific Affairs. “For many, many countries that are also feeling the devastating impacts of sea level rise or huge floods like the one we saw in Pakistan, or droughts like the one that they're experiencing in the northern part of Africa or the one we're seeing here at home, we know that climate change is also very destructive.”
“While we are working hard to help the Ukrainian government overcome the environmental challenges that they face as a result of the heinous war that Russia is perpetrating against their people, we are also working hard to help people who are being negatively impacted by the ravages of climate change as well,” said Assistant Secretary Medina.
Vladimir Putin’s war on Ukraine will continue to exacerbate the effects of climate change and environmental degradation and complicate the global response to it for years to come. “We've had tremendous agreement around the world that we need to work together to solve these environmental challenges because we can't solve them alone. They are global challenges,” said Assistant Secretary Medina. “[We] will continue to push forward on solving these great environmental challenges so that we can ensure that our children and our grandchildren will have a healthy planet.”