Russia owes ‘whole world’ for environment damage: Ukraine

Direct emissions as a result of Moscow's invasion are estimated to be equivalent to 33 million tonnes of CO2

November 15, 2022 04:05 am | Updated 12:14 pm IST - Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt

Ruslan Strilets, Ukraine’s minister of environmental protection and natural resources, speaks at the Ukraine Pavilion during the COP27 U.N. Climate Summit, on November 14, 2022, in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt.

Ruslan Strilets, Ukraine’s minister of environmental protection and natural resources, speaks at the Ukraine Pavilion during the COP27 U.N. Climate Summit, on November 14, 2022, in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt. | Photo Credit: AP

Russia must take responsibility for the environmental damage caused by its invasion of Ukraine, Kyiv's Environment Minister Ruslan Strilets said on November 14 at U.N. climate talks.

Ukraine is launching a platform to evaluate environmental damage caused by Russia's military action, Mr. 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.

Also Read | Ukraine war’s environmental toll to take years to clean up 

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", Mr. 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.

Mr. 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, Mr. 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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