What does Russia’s war mean for global climate goals?

A group of Ukrainian women demonstrate calling for action against Russia near the EU Commission headquarters in Brussels, Belgium.

Thierry Monasse | Getty Images News | beautiful pictures

LONDON – Reflecting on energy markets just over a month after Russia’s onslaught in Ukraine, top Saudi energy official speak: “Look what’s happening today, who’s talking about climate change now?”

Crown Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman’s comments at the end of March effectively re-enacted his speech to attendees of the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow, Scotland, last November when he made the world declaration. can cut greenhouse gas emissions without removing hydrocarbons.

Summarizing his views on energy security and the climate crisis, Abdulaziz told CNBC that the world’s top oil exporter will not shy away from fossil fuel production. “We specialize in the production of oil and gas, and – hallelujah – professionally use coal.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine is now at its peak as it enters its fourth month, raising concerns about the implications of the conflict. dish, energy and global climate goals.

G-7 has warning The Russian invasion has resulted in “one of the most severe food and energy crises in recent history,” threatening the most vulnerable people worldwide.

As for me, since I’m still here in Ukraine and I’ve seen everything here from the beginning, I’d say our first security is life security.

Svitlana Krakovska

Climate scientist

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has speak The Kremlin’s attack on Ukraine is likely to have a major impact on global warming goals, especially in many countries. switch to coal or Import of liquefied natural gas as alternative sources of Russian energy.

Guterres described the short-sighted rush to fossil fuels as “madness”, before warning that humanity’s “addiction to fossil fuels is mutual destruction”.

Six months since COP26 ended, where negotiators left the UK feeling incremental progressThe global energy picture has changed dramatically.

In short, the invasion of Russia placed a planned energy transition before a fork in the road. Policymakers must face the consequences that the transition away from fossil fuels is crucial to avoid a cataclysmic climate scenario.

The head of the United Nations said that instead of countries “braking” in the decarbonization of the global economy in the face of Russia’s aggression, “now is the time to put the springboard for metals towards an energy future”. renewables.”

Energy security versus energy transition

Putin’s invasion of Ukraine has pushed energy security back to the top of the political agenda. Indeed, one of the most pressing challenges facing European leaders today is how to cut their dependence on Russian energy while stepping up the fight against the gas crisis. Queen.

However, further complicating this challenge is the fact that many European countries are heavily dependent on Russian oil and gas.

Ukrainian officials have repeatedly called on the EU to stop funding the Russian invasion by imposing an immediate import ban on Russian oil and gas.

Attila Kisbenedek | Afp | beautiful pictures

Speaking to CNBC from Kyiv, Ukraine’s top climate scientist Svitlana Krakovska made it clear that survival – not energy security – is a top priority for people living in the country.

“As for me, since I am still here in Ukraine and I see everything here from the beginning, I would say that our first security is the security of life,” Krakovska said. She used to told CNBC that the main cause of the climate emergency and the root cause of war in Russia both stem from humanity’s dependence on fossil fuels.

“The more we continue to depend on these fossil fuels and the more we delay [climate] Krakovska said.

The burning of fossil fuels, such as coal, oil and gas, is a major cause of the climate crisis, and researchers have repeatedly emphasized that limiting global heating to 1 .5 degrees Celsius will soon be out of reach without immediate and profound emissions reductions across all sectors.

This temperature limit is recognized as an important target globally because beyond this the so-called tipping point becomes more numerous. The cut-off point is the threshold at which small changes can lead to dramatic changes in the entire Earth’s life-support system.

We can respond to the demand side much faster than the supply side – and we don’t hear enough about that.

Michael Lazarus

Director of the US office for the Stockholm Environment Institute

Governments around the world have agreed in Paris Climate Agreement 2015 to limit global temperatures to below 2 degrees Celsius and pursue efforts to limit temperature rises to 1.5 degrees Celsius. For the latter, the International Energy Agency has warning that no new oil and gas projects are viable.

Krakovska, head of the applied climate laboratory at Ukraine’s Hydrometeorological Institute, said that currently it is difficult to assess the climate impact of Russia’s invasion, but there are clear examples of devastation. destroy the environment.

For example, Krakovska said that she observed with some concern about Massive forest fires burning uncontrolled in Siberianote that the Russian military units that normally fight these fires have been moved to the Ukrainian front lines.

Wildfires remain uncontrolled in Siberia, Russia. This aerial photo taken on July 27, 2021 shows smoke rising from a forest fire.

Dimitar Dilkoff | Afp | beautiful pictures

Environmental group Greenpeace told CNBC last month that has been found to be more than double the size of the same period in 2021, environmental group Greenpeace told CNBC. Against the backdrop of the annual climate disruption, tree burning in Siberia causes massive carbon pollution while also melting methane-rich permafrost.

“This war really has too many devastating consequences and it only exacerbates the climate crisis,” Krakovska said. She reiterated the Ukrainian government’s call for the EU to stop funding the Russian invasion by imposing an immediate import ban on Russian oil and gas.

Why don’t we talk about demand?

For some, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the resulting energy crisis should be seen as a harbinger of how countries think about their use of oil.

“We can respond a lot faster on the demand side than on the supply side – and we don’t,” said Michael Lazarus, director of the US office of the Stockholm Environment Institute, a nonprofit research firm. heard enough about it”. told CNBC via video call.

At the end of March, the IEA published a 10-point plan to reduce oil demand, proposing policies such as reducing speed limits on highways by at least 10 kilometers an hour, working from home three days a week where possible, and Sundays not There are cars in cities.

The energy agency says imposing measures like these will help ease the price pain borne by global consumers, ease the economic damage, shrink Russia’s hydrocarbon sales and help boost sales. demand for oil in a more sustainable direction.

“While some endeavors are behavioral or cultural challenges, whether it’s changing the speed limit or changing the temperature in our homes, these things can happen and what we seen as a movement of public support,” Lazarus said.

“People want to do something. People want to contribute, and this reduces costs and vulnerability for households to invest in energy savings and efficiency and it frees up resources. for the rest of the world to deal with this moment,” Lazarus said. “This is really the moment for impressive demand-side efforts.”

What about costs?

In early April, the world’s leading climate scientists warned that the battle to keep the global temperature below 1.5 degrees Celsius had come to an or never” territory.

The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reaffirmed that to keep global temperature rise below this critical threshold, emissions from warming gases must be halved by the end of the decade.

Jose Manuel Barroso, president of Goldman Sachs International and former president of the European Commission, said at a May 10 event called: “Conflict in Ukraine and Europe’s clean energy transition.”

“In the medium and long term, everyone agrees that the less reliance on fossil fuels the better. The problem is how expensive it will be – and so I think there is a risk of a backlash. I would even say that there is a risk Barroso said: “

The IPCC is clear about the so-called “costs” of the global fight to secure a livable future: It’s not nearly as expensive as we think.

“Without accounting for the economic benefits of reducing the costs of adaptation or avoiding climate impacts, global Gross Domestic Product (GDP) would be only a few percentage points lower in 2050 if we did.” take the necessary actions to limit warming to 2°C (3.6°F) or below, compared with maintaining current policies,” said IPCC Working Group III Co-Chair, Priyadarshi Shukla said on April 4.

– CNBC’s Lucy Handley contributed to this report.

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