Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says climate change policy is impossible without peace

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has distracted world governments from efforts to fight climate change, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in a video message released at the COP27 climate conference in Egypt.

“There can be no effective climate policy without peace,” Mr. Zelenskyy said.

“This Russian war has caused an energy crisis that has forced dozens of countries to resume coal-fired electricity generation in order to bring down energy prices for their people…to lower prices which are shockingly rising due to deliberate Russian actions.

“[It] has caused an acute food crisis around the world, which has hit hardest those who suffer from the existing manifestations of climate change.

“The Russian war destroyed 5 million acres of forest in Ukraine in less than six months.”

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COP27 delegates say the world is on a ‘highway to climate hell’(Allyson Horn)

Ukraine is hosting an exhibition space at a United Nations climate conference for the first time this year.

But unlike other COP27 booths adorned with colorful logos, flags and greenery, Ukraine’s stood out for its gloom – covered in gray and black to symbolize war at home.

Mr Zelenskyy, who wore a branded green T-shirt and faced the video camera from behind a desk, criticized world leaders for paying lip service to climate change without delivering real change.

He did not name individual states.

“There are still many for whom climate change is just rhetoric or marketing…but no real action,” he said.

“They are the ones who obstruct the implementation of climate goals, they are the ones in their offices who mock those who fight to save life on the planet, even if in public they seem to support the work for the good of the world. nature.

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

Tuvalu wants a treaty against fossil fuels

The world should confront climate change as it does with nuclear weapons, by agreeing to a non-proliferation treaty that halts the production of fossil fuels, Tuvalu Prime Minister Kausea Natano told the conference.

The proposal came as vulnerable nations demanded more action and money, while big polluters remained divided over who should pay for the damage caused by industrial greenhouse gas emissions to the planet.

A man in a suit speaks behind a lectern while standing in front of two soft flags.
Natano says a fossil fuel non-proliferation treaty is essential.(PA: Peter Dejong)

“We all know that the main cause of the climate crisis is fossil fuels,” Natano told his fellow leaders.

The Pacific nation has “joined Vanuatu and other nations calling for a fossil fuel non-proliferation treaty,” Natano said.

“It is too hot and there are very [little] time to slow down and reverse the rising temperature. Therefore, it is essential to favor rapid action strategies.”

Vanuatu and Tuvalu, along with other vulnerable nations, have shown moral authority in the context of recent climate-related disasters.

The idea of ​​a non-proliferation treaty for coal, oil and natural gas has already been put forward by activists, religious authorities, including the Vatican, and some scientists, but Mr. Natano’s speech has given a boost in front of a global audience.

A year ago, at the climate talks in Glasgow, a proposal to call for a ‘phasing out’ of coal – the dirtiest of fossil fuels – was changed at the last minute to ‘phasing out’ by a demand from India, which has earned it the ire of vulnerable countries.

Since then, the global energy crisis triggered by the Russian invasion of Ukraine has caused a scramble by some countries and companies seeking to exploit new sources of gas and oil.

To push back against this, vulnerable nations have also called for a global tax on the profits of fossil fuel companies that earn billions of dollars a day from sky-high energy prices.

Pressure mounts on big polluters

There is growing pressure on Beijing to step up its climate efforts given its massive economic clout.

The prime minister of the island nation of Antigua and Barbuda has said heavily polluting emerging economies, including China and India, should contribute to a climate compensation fund to help countries rebuild after related disasters. to climate change.

The comments marked the first time the two nations have been grouped together in the list of major emitters that island states say should be held accountable for the damage already caused by global warming.

Prime Minister Gaston Browne, speaking on behalf of the Association of Small Island States (AOSIS) negotiating bloc, said that although these are still emerging economies, they have a responsibility to help a fund.

Conference delegates agreed to put the topic of loss and damage on the formal agenda for the first time in the history of international climate negotiations.

“We all know that the People’s Republic of China, India, are big polluters and the polluter has to pay,” Mr Browne said.

“I don’t think there is a free pass for any country and I don’t say that with acrimony.”

In the UN climate talks, the phrase “loss and damage” refers to costs already incurred due to climate-fueled weather extremes or impacts, such as sea level rise.

A man in a suit speaks behind a lectern with two flags hanging behind it.
Xie said developed countries should take responsibility for financial assistance.(PA: Peter Dejong)

So far, China – the world’s biggest polluter – has insisted it cannot be held to the same standards as developed economies like the US or Europe as it continues to dump millions of its citizens out of poverty.

Beijing’s climate envoy said on Tuesday that the meeting in Egypt should focus on “implementing” existing commitments.

“Developed countries will take the lead in effectively raising their emission reduction targets and achieving carbon neutrality in advance,” Xie Zhenhua said, according to an official translation of the speech.

Mr Xie said it was up to developed countries to “achieve substantial results” on climate change adaptation measures and financial assistance to the poor that are “of most concern to developing countries”.

Forrest calls for a ban on seabed mining

Fortescue Metals executive chairman Andrew Forrest said his charitable foundation supports a pause in seabed mining, the first time a top mining executive has spoken out against the nascent industry.

Mr Forrest said the Minderoo Foundation, which he and his wife Nicola fund with dividends they receive from Fortescue, will support a pause until there is enough evidence that damage to ocean environments can be avoided.

A man in a suit gives a speech at an official ceremony
Andrew Forrest said his charitable foundation supports a pause in seabed mining.(ABC News: James Carmody)

Seabed mining would involve sucking up potato-sized rocks rich in battery metals that cover large areas of the seafloor at depths of 4-6 kilometers and are particularly abundant in the northern Pacific Ocean.

Seabed mining in areas beyond national jurisdiction cannot begin until the International Seabed Authority, a United Nations body based in Jamaica, decides on regulations governing the industry.

Some seabed mining already occurs in national waters, but at much shallower depths, for example off the coast of Namibia where a De Beers subsidiary mines for diamonds.

The ISA’s latest round of negotiations, which ends on Friday, has been marked by a divide among member states over whether mining should continue.

“If regulators can’t apply the exact same studies across the entire ecosystem, including flora, fauna, terrain, and unintended consequences and the same or higher standards, as we do on land, then the seabed should not be mined,” Forrest said at the COP27 conference.

Germany last week said it supported a temporary ban on deep-sea mining to allow further research, joining France, Spain and New Zealand among countries opposed to the practice.

Alternatives, such as more efficient mining methods and recycling existing metals, should be explored before seabed mining continues, Forrest said.


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