Climate damage caused by Russia’s war in Ukraine (First and second interim assessments)

Months of the military conflict caused by Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine has caused significant damage and led to the unfolding of a humanitarian crisis. Civilian infrastructure has been destroyed and damage has been done to the environment. This war adversely affects the global climate causing significant carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere.

First interim assessment

The interim assessment, which is focused on four activity areas directly affected by the war, concludes that greenhouse gas emissions for seven months of the full-scale war totals at least 100 million tCO2e. This is the equivalent of the total GHG emissions over the same period in a country like The Netherlands. As a number of impacts of this war have not yet been taken into consideration, these figures are likely to underestimate the true level of emissions. The longer Russia’s war continues, the higher final figures will be.

The post-war reconstruction of civilian infrastructure accounts for half of the GHG emissions, followed by fires. Emissions from warfare account for a smaller share although limited information was available to make a comprehensive analysis. Transport emissions from refugees and IDPs are relatively low.

Second interim assessment

The second interim assessment concludes that greenhouse gas emissions attributable to twelve months of the war totalled to 120 million tCO2 e. This is equivalent to the total GHG emissions produced over the same period in a country like Belgium. Compared to the first assessment, which covered seven months of the war, emissions did increase but did not grow at the same rate due to limited movement of the front line and winter conditions. Furthermore, the second assessment benefitted from additional insights into the situation in Ukraine, which allowed for some corrections to be made to the assessment.

December 2023 Update: Climate Damage caused by Russia’s war in Ukraine – Climate Focus.

The Initiative on GHG accounting of war has updated the report on greenhouse gas emissions after eighteen months of Russia’s war in Ukraine. The report now features a legal analysis on holding Russia accountable for the climate damage caused and a suggestion of how Ukraine can rebuild in a green and sustainable way.

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