What impact is the war in Ukraine having on climate change?
The ongoing war in Ukraine is not only a humanitarian disaster but also a major setback in the global fight against climate change.
This is our summary of that article and the impact the Ukraine war is having on climate change.
According to Jose Maria Ortiz, Palladium Managing Director, the ripple effects of the war are impacting climate change efforts across three critical areas: politics, global energy supply, and food security.
Climate policy, in particular, requires difficult and brave decisions that disrupt business as usual. However, as the world focuses on security and sanctions, attention has been diverted from the potentially catastrophic consequences of climate change. Political support is needed to weather the energy crisis and rising living costs, but not at the expense of consistent climate policy.
The war in Ukraine has exacerbated the energy crisis, causing energy prices to surge. Ortiz argues that rather than relaxing climate policies to counter this, governments should support the most vulnerable populations with energy support checks while maintaining the long-term goal of phasing out fossil fuels. The war has also disrupted supply chains, making it essential for policymakers to strike a balance between relief measures and climate policies that will yield mid and long-term results.
Global energy supply has been further challenged as sanctions against Russia cut off oil and gas supplies. Countries have been forced to reconsider their decisions to phase out carbon and diesel due to shortages. Consequently, limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius has become even more difficult. In response to energy shortages, Germany and Italy have resorted to temporarily using old coal power plants.
However, Ortiz sees a silver lining in the long term: countries without access to oil and gas may reconsider their energy independence through renewables, such as solar, wind, and nuclear energy. Despite the time required for such a transition, Ortiz urges supporting developing countries like Sri Lanka and Nigeria to accelerate the shift toward green energy and improve their energy independence.
The war has also put global food security at risk, as Ukraine and Russia, which together exported over a quarter of the world’s wheat, are no longer part of the global economy. Food shortages may lead countries to relax land-use policies, which could negatively impact climate change.
Ortiz believes that reshaping supply chains in the short term and accelerating climate-smart solutions in the midterm are the only ways to avoid famine and the destruction of nature in many parts of the world. With nature being the only viable option for carbon sequestration, the food security crisis puts our environment at risk.
To address these challenges, Ortiz calls on governments—especially those from developed economies—to continue pushing the climate agenda and support countries navigating the energy and food crises. Solutions exist; they just need to be harnessed and supported by collective action for a sustainable future.