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The War in Ukraine and Climate Change

By Helen Park

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The war in Ukraine is no stranger to the public by now.

Though really, it’s been going on for years (started February 20, 2014), it was only a couple months ago when Russia actively invaded Ukraine on February 24th of this year.

 

Many people were left devastated and many political questions have arisen from this ongoing tragedy. As Hiking Heroes, we’ve also paid close attention to this issue and organized a fundraiser in support of Ukraine in the war.

However, what many don’t know is that this war is leaving an unexpected bigger problem for our climate as well. If more people don’t pay attention to this, the climate turnout of our world could be irreversible and deadly. ​

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The U.S.’s progress to reduce greenhouse gasses and fossil fuel emissions are being slowed immensely due to the war. Furthermore, before, many nations opted for solar and wind power, trying to stay away from Russian oil and gas.

 

Now, the scramble is to replace Russian fossil fuels and now these nations are committing millions for oil and gas. The Group of 7 Nations, which includes the USA and Germany, are in a struggle between whether to stay off of more fossil fuels or prioritize immediate political and economic pressures from the war. 

According to a New York Times article on this subject, “Before Russia’s invasion in February, Group of 7 countries had made a number of climate commitments: to exit coal by 2030; to decarbonize their power sectors by 2035; to increase public investment into renewables; and to end public funding of any overseas fossil fuel projects by the end of this year” (Bennhold and Tankhersley).

 

However, with the increasing severity of the current war, the juggling of energy between Russia and Europe got more intense, causing a shift in tone for the project. 60% of the amount of gas delivered by Nord Stream 1 (a critical pipeline serving other European countries and Germany) was cut off by Russia. This caused a spike in coal-powered power plants and a higher demand for coal-powered electricity. 

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This is how the Russian invasion also contributes to global inflation, which is also why you’ve heard people around you complain about rising gas prices. This directly opposes a major legislation from Congress, which would help invest in electric, solar, and wind powered machines and buildings.

 

These higher gas prices urged the Biden administration to encourage producing more oil and gas from major fossil fuel companies instead of the original legislation. 

Despite all this, many are still hopeful that the Group of 7 could be a leading point in reversing climate change while sufficiently meeting energy goals. 

Climate change has already taken so many lives already, with floods, hurricanes, wildfires, droughts, heat waves (and frost waves), and so much more. Now is a pivotal moment for climate change worldwide. 

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