Takeaways From Bonn: Ukraine Crisis Slows Down Climate Efforts

Takeaways From Bonn: Ukraine Crisis Slows Down Climate Efforts

Ahead of COP27 in Egypt, global climate leaders met for a UN Climate Conference in Bonn, Germany, where they urged nations to remain focused on climate change targets despite the slowdown caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. US Climate Envoy John Kerry warned against the energy vacuum caused by the Ukraine crisis and the continued global reliance on coal. Should coal use continue, "we are cooked,” he stated. In an address to all present leaders, UN climate chief Patricia Espinosa said, "I appeal to all of you, especially in these difficult and challenging times, not to lose hope, not to lose focus, but to use our united efforts against climate change as the ultimate act of unity between nations.”

UN: Opening Ceremony Bonn Climate Conference, June 7, 2022.

CBC News: Huge carbon emissions cuts needed, UN climate report finds, April 4, 2022.

Why This Matters

According to Kerry, the longer the war lasts in Ukraine, the more difficult it will be to slow climate change. Offsetting Russian gas has forced the rest of the world to find alternatives. While some options are green, many countries are turning back to dirty energy sources like coal. Post-COVID, global coal use has increased alongside rising gas and fuel prices. But prices went soaring after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and climate is bearing the cost. Mounting research has shown that coal use must be cut immediately -- with oil and gas to follow suit -- in the next decade. Yet since the energy and humanitarian crisis began in Ukraine, global momentum to cut emissions has fallen flat.

UN: Mitigation of Climate Change Report 2022 | "Litany of broken climate promises" - UN Chief, April 4, 2022.

Reuters: Why the Ukraine crisis means a comeback for coal, February 4, 2022.

Breakthrough in Australia

Climate was victorious in Australia’s recent elections when the more progressive Labor party took back control. According to some polls, climate change was ranked as the most important issue to voters. Australia has a turbulent climate history but significant emissions cuts over the next couple of years would be a major breakthrough and global contribution.

ABC News (Australia): Australia’s biggest carbon emitters set for uncertain future under Labor, May 24, 2022.

Al Jazeera English: Will the Labor government put climate change at the forefront?, May 22, 2022.