In a video address to the United Nations at annual climate change conference, COP27, Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky condemned Russia for the effects its invasion has had not just on the citizens of Ukraine, but its impact on global climate change.
“There are still many for whom climate change is just rhetoric or marketing or political ritual,” Zelensky said. “They are the ones who start wars of aggression when the planet cannot afford a single gunshot because it needs global joint actions."
Zelensky emphasized that dozens of countries have been forced to switch to coal-fired power since Russia's attempt to "destroy the independence” of Ukraine, in an effort to reduce energy costs.
He cited the war as being the catalyst to “an acute food crisis” that has exacerbated the threats facing developing nations, who already experience “the existing manifestations of climate change, catastrophic drought, large-scale floods.”
Zelensky also revealed that in just six months, Russian shelling alone has destroyed 5 million acres of forest in Ukraine.
The president also condemned Russia for turning the precarious Zaporizhzhia nuclear power into a “de facto into a military training ground" for soldiers.
“They are constantly playing with connecting and disconnecting their plant and nuclear reactors from their power grid,” Zelensky continued. "There is direct risk of a radiation disaster.”
According to the president, Russia's “insane and illegal war is destroying the world’s ability to work united for a common goal.” Zelensky urged world leaders to "tell those who do not take the climate agenda seriously that they are making a catastrophic mistake.”
Zelensky ended his address by calling on government officials at COP27 to support an initiative from Kyiv that would create a global network to examine the effects military activities have on the environment.
He said: “We must ensure that suffering doesn’t multiply because the world doesn’t have time to respond to climate challenges."
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