We need your help now

Support from readers like you keeps The Journal open.

You are visiting us because we have something you value. Independent, unbiased news that tells the truth. Advertising revenue goes some way to support our mission, but this year it has not been enough.

If you've seen value in our reporting, please contribute what you can, so we can continue to produce accurate and meaningful journalism. For everyone who needs it.

Temperature Check

Newsletter: Russia’s war on Ukraine is the elephant in the room at COP27

Read an extract from The Journal’s climate newsletter sent straight from Egypt.

download (30)

This is an extract from Temperature Check, The Journal’s climate newsletter, which is sending special daily editions for COP27. A more detailed edition was sent yesterday evening on the first day of the conference.

Sign up in the box at the end of this article to receive Temperature Check during COP27 and once a month afterwards to your email inbox for free.

Three months after countries packed up their bags and travelled home from COP26 in Glasgow with a new climate pact, Putin began a brutal invasion of Ukraine.

It’s the elephant in the room at COP27; Russia’s war on Ukraine has created an entirely different landscape at this COP when compared to the last one.

The impacts of the war on energy, food and finances are mammoth and all of those are in someway linked to climate change.

Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy addressed the conference via livestream yesterday, telling countries that they “must stop those who, with their insane and illegal war, are destroying the world’s ability to work united for a common goal”.

He said that leaders must tell others who don’t take climate change seriously that “they are making a catastrophic mistake”.

“They are the ones who start wars of aggression when the planet cannot afford a single gunshot, because it needs global joint actions.”

cop27-climate-summit Volodymyr Zelenskyy speaks via video link at COP27 Peter Dejong / PA Peter Dejong / PA / PA

One feature of COP is that lots of countries and organisations host pavilions – spaces where they showcase their climate efforts or call for change and hold events. For the first time, Ukraine has its own pavilion at a COP this year.

I took some time to visit it, starting by ‘stepping in’ to areas that have been ravaged by Russian troops with a VR headset, with the 360-degree view showing footage from Kyiv and some of the other worst-hit cities in Ukraine.

A showcase of Ukrainian soil samples highlighted the diversity of the country’s soil but also how Russian shells have blown through the ground and exposed the earth underneath.

A diorama of renewable energy sources like wind and solar told attendees: “Expanding the process of decarbonisation is the way towards making the world independent on Russian gas and also a swift reaction to global climate change.”

Also on display was a section of a ten-year-old oak tree that grew in Irpin, near Kyiv, but which was hit by Russian bullets.

IMG_8661 A segment of a tree from Irpin damaged by Russian bullets Lauren Boland / The Journal Lauren Boland / The Journal / The Journal

The sense I got from some politicians and UN officials was that they were gesturing towards ‘geological situations’ that complicate climate action – but that they weren’t willing to name Russia as being responsible for those situations.

Maybe that’s in part because Russia is in the room.

Although Vladimir Putin did not attend, the country is still a party to the United Nations Framework on Climate Change Convention and is represented by delegates at COP.

Each delegation has an office space in one area of the conference centre, and curiously enough, Russia’s is located at the very end of the long hallway, tucked away behind a corner. It would be difficult to spot unless you were looking for it.

Switzerland’s office is in a comparable position on the other end of the hall, but it’s also closer to the main entrance.

IMG_7616 Russia's office at the summit Lauren Boland / The Journal Lauren Boland / The Journal / The Journal

I asked Taoiseach Micheál Martin what he thought about the beating-around-the-bush going on at COP over Russia.

“I was unequivocal at a forum that I attended in terms of nailing it in respect of Russia’s culpability here, in terms of imposing this war on the people of Ukraine that has been illegal and immoral,” he said.

He also said that other countries “can’t use Ukraine as an excuse to divert from our targets in respect of climate change”.

“I would hope that the European Union is devising plans whereby we use the war on Ukraine as a catalyst for moving faster on renewables.”

There’s been plenty of hope expressed at the conference that the war should not be used as an excuse to avoid taking necessary climate action but not a massive amount of discussion about how to actually make sure that doesn’t happen.

Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney also attended COP yesterday, and I asked if he is concerned about the impact the war could have on the COP27 outcomes despite suggestions that such a thing could never happen.

He didn’t really answer that in his response, but he did say: “I think in the medium-term,, what the war in Ukraine is doing is accelerating the EU’s commitment to renewables as a way of powering our economies and our societies.

“We are going to move away from a reliance on Russia and I think a reliance on other countries that provide carbon-based fuels in the future. But that can’t happen, of course, overnight.”

Coveney added that “in the short-term, we have seen some countries turn back to coal and turn back to carbon-based fuels, like LNG, for example”.

“But that is a short-term emergency measure, make no mistake about that.”

Your Voice
Readers Comments
This is YOUR comments community. Stay civil, stay constructive, stay on topic. Please familiarise yourself with our comments policy here before taking part.
Leave a Comment
    Submit a report
    Please help us understand how this comment violates our community guidelines.
    Thank you for the feedback
    Your feedback has been sent to our team for review.

    Leave a commentcancel