A fast-heating world “cannot afford a single gunshot”, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky told the UN climate summit on Tuesday, Nov. 8, arguing that Russia’s invasion threatened international efforts to tackle global warming.

Speaking by video-link to the COP27 climate talks in Egypt, Zelensky itemised the environmental fallout from the Russian assault on his country — from compelling countries to increase their use of coal to the disruption of grain supplies, worsening food crises stoked by drought.

“We 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.

Zelensky added world leaders must tell those who do not 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.”

Zelensky said Ukraine was introducing a plan at the conference in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh to assess the impact of military actions on climate and the environment.

The fighting has destroyed at least five million acres (two million hectares) of forest in Ukraine, according to Zelensky, while threatening “a radiation disaster” from the occupied Zaporizhzhia facility, Europe’s largest atomic power plant.

Renewables ‘good for security’

In their statements to the summit, European leaders lined up to condemn the Russian invasion of Ukraine since February as a dangerous distraction from the severe and accelerating threats posed by climate change.

Speaking earlier at an event linked to the climate conference, NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg said the transition from fossil fuels to renewables was “good for our security” as well as in tackling climate change.

He accused Russia of trying to use “energy as a weapon”.

“It is a stark reminder of the need to transition from dependence on fossil fuels to renewables,” Stoltenberg said.


He added that effective military activities in the future would also be green, suggesting armies should align their activities with the need to tackle warming.

Estimates of planet-warming emissions from the world’s militaries range between one and five percent of the global total, according to a commentary published in the journal Nature last week.

That is comparable to shipping or aviation — both around two percent, according to the paper led by researchers in Britain.

But they warned that armies are largely exempt from proper oversight, meaning efforts to cut emissions globally risked being “guesswork”.

To suggest a correction or clarification, write to us here
You can also highlight the text and press Ctrl + Enter