The Climate Crisis And The Invasion Of Ukraine ‘have The Same Roots’, Says Expert


March 19, 2022


The Conflict and Environment Observatory (CEOBS), a non-profit organization based in the UK, has been closely monitoring the situation in Ukraine and the impact of the Russian invasion on the environment.
Researchers have been trying to assess the situation on the ground through satellite pictures and eye witness testimonies, as most of the online monitoring stations have been removed.
“What we are most concerned about is the Russian strategy of bombarding urban areas, which have industrial sites close to where people live, work and where children play. This is very concerning because we’ve seen it in Chechnya, and this creates environmental health risks for people that are still there or when they return,” the organisation.
“In Ukraine, the scale of the destruction that we are seeing… it is likely that we’ll see permanent pollution issues being caused as a result of this conflict. Some of them will be temporary like smoke and fires, but others will last for a while. Some will be rained out to the rivers and the soil.”
During the 9/11 attacks at the World Trade Centre in New York, an atmospheric plume formed, containing ground up cement, glass fibers, asbestos, lead, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), and polychlorinated furans and dioxins.
The destruction of entire cities, together with the bombardment of industrial sites across Ukraine, may have the same impact on air quality at a much larger scale.
The consequences of war in Ukraine are already visible, as the conflict has been ongoing in the Eastern provinces of the country since 2014. According to a recent report from Action on Armed Violence, cited by the UNEP, in Ukraine’s Donbas 36 mines have now flooded and are likely to have released methane gases and toxic heavy metals into local groundwater pools. This has the potential to pollute key water supplies.
The besieged city of Mariupol, where heavy fighting is currently held, is of major concern.
The city is home to two large iron and steelworks, and more than 50 other industrial enterprises, which could cause serious harm to the environment if they were damaged.
“Whatever is being fired, shells, rockets, missiles, all of them contain metals. Some are very persistent in the environment. When they blast, this stuff is being pulverized, and can it also be mixed in with the stuff that it’s hitting, whether that is an industrial site or a residential building.”
As Ukraine is a country with a large nuclear power system, the war poses even greater risks, according to the researchers of CEOBS.