On Taking Responsibility

As Her Home City is Bombed, Lead Ukrainian Scientist Attends to
Future of Our Planet and Fears for Russian Peer Who Publicly
Apologized for His Inability to Stop Invasion

Reading Time: 3 Minutes

The Courage to Assume Responsibility

During a major United Nations meeting attended by delegates from 195 nations, Oleg Anisimov, the head of the Russian delegation on climate change, told hundreds of government ministers and scientists that “those who know what is happening fail to find any justification for the attack.” In presenting his “apology on behalf of all Russians”, Anisimov assumed responsibility for all Russians who were “not able to prevent this conflict”.

Zhuravlyne Lake, Sumy Oblast, Ukraine
Zhuravlyne Lake, Sumy Oblast, Ukraine.
Source: MedofferZhuravlyne ozeroCC BY-SA 4.0

Anisimov studies climate change in Arctic regions. He is particularly expert in permafrost. When permafrost melts, it can release methane and accelerate warming trends. Parts of Russia’s Arctic already have warmed at a rate that is as much as triple the global average.

Anisimov also expressed admiration for the Ukrainian delegation’s commitment to participating in the negotiations as his own country invaded Ukraine.

Planet’s “Increasingly Irreversible Losses” Overshadowed by Invasion of Ukraine

“We Will Not Surrender in Ukraine. And We Hope the World Will Not Surrender in Building a Climate-Resilient Future.”

Svitlana Krakovska
Mount Hoverla, part of the Carpathian Mountains and at at 2,061 metres, the highest mountain in Ukraine
Mount Hoverla, part of the Carpathian Mountains and the highest mountain in Ukraine
Source: KhoroshkovГора Говерла після заходу сонцяCC BY-SA 4.0

Anisimov’s courageous declaration occurred after an impassioned speech from his Ukrainian counterpart, Svitlana Krakovska, who linked the invasion of her country to climate change. Krakovska, a senior scientist of applied climatology, was leading an 11-strong delegation in negotiations to approve the “summary for policymakers” accompanying the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report on climate impacts.

Krakovska had hoped that a major scientific report showing climate change causing “increasingly irreversible losses” to nature and humanity would dominate headlines across the world this week. But the Russian invasion of her country dashed such hopes: The world is instead focused on the existential threat her country is facing.

Working to Save Her Nation – and the Planet

“It is not possible to (pursue) science when you are under attack. I’m sad that instead of presenting key findings of this report in Ukraine, we need to fight for the existence of our country.”

Svitlana Krakovska
Sunset from top of “Hawk’s Eye Rock”. “Protyati Kameni” Natural Geological Monument, Ukraine.
Source: Ryzhkov SergeyЗахід сонця на вершині скелі Соколине окоCC BY-SA 4.0

Krakovska and her team continued to work as Russian troops advanced towards the capital. The survival of Ukraine as a sovereign state and the completion of the IPCC report both became critical. “As long as we have internet and no bombs over our head, we will continue to work,” Krakovska recalled telling the plenary of the IPCC meeting. But the fighting intensified, forcing the delegation to withdraw from the discussions. As Krakovska’s home City of Kiev was bombed, she worried about the safety of her Russian colleague, Oleg Anisimov, after he courageously apologized for his country’s behavior.

Invasion of Ukraine Directly Connected to World’s Dependence on Fossil Fuels

“We Must Learn to Live Together as Brothers
Or Perish Together as Fools.”

Martin Luther King, Jr.

Krakovska emphasizes the direct connection between climate change and the war. Two links are readily discernible:

  • Russian wealth used to fund the war largely consists of revenues from oil and gas production. In 2019 Oil and gas provided 39% of the federal budget revenue and made up 60% of Russian exports.
  • Water scarcity attributable to climate change in eastern and southern Ukraine limited water supplies in to Russian-occupied Crimea. The threat of a Russian attack on Ukraine increased following widespread drought in 2018, 2019 and 2020. In 2020, water levels in Ukraine’s rivers and reservoirs hit their lowest levels since record began in 1885. Ironically, the problem identified in the report prevented its authors from completing it: The IPCC’s report describes the likelihood of regional conflicts and war caused by droughts induced by global warming.
Dawn in the Prypiat-Stohid landscape park, Northwestern Ukraine
Source: EnergyButterflyПрип’ять-Стохід на світанкуCC BY-SA 4.0

The objectives of leaders such as Krakovska are also not difficult to identify. Krakovska alludes to her goals while describing her experiences as a Climate Scientist “I’ve traveled the world and I’ve seen this beautiful planet, And I want to preserve it for my children.”

“Russian Climate Delegate Apologizes on Ukraine, Saying Many ’Fail to Find Any Justification for the Attack.” Washington Post: https://www.washingtonpost.com/climate-environment/2022/02/27/ipcc-russian-apologizes-ukraine-climate/

“Under Attack: The Ukrainian Climate Scientist Fighting for Survival.” Climate Home News: https://www.climatechangenews.com/2022/03/01/under-attack-the-ukrainian-climate-scientist-fighting-for-survival/#:~:text=Svitlana%20Krakovska%20had%20hoped%20that,across%2

“Ukraine Climate Scientist Fears for Russian Peer Who Apologized for War.” Bloomberg Green: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2022-02-28/ukraine-climate-scientist-fears-for-russian-peer-who-apologized-for-war

“Will Russia’s Economy Ever Leave Fossil Fuels Behind?”. BBC:

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