Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine May Have Disastrous Cascading Effects for Climate

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has completely upended European military spending and the global energy market. The disruptions in these sectors could have major implications for how the world addresses global climate change. Already, Germany’s decisionUS and its allies have taken the initiative to increase their defense budget to 100 million euros. 60 million barrels of oilThey are just the first of what is likely a massive reshuffle of global priorities as well as supply lines in response to the military attack by Vladimir Putin.

The President of the United States is Joe Biden announcedA ban on the import of Russian oil was imposed. This is in addition to the exempted oil that was previously exempted from the harsh sanctions that were imposed at the start of the war. Only about 8 percentThe majority of U.S. petroleum imports from Russia came in 2021. But even this small decrease in supply could cause an increase in gas prices. Europe hasn’t imposed its own ban, as the continent is far more reliant on Russia for oil and natural gas imports. European leaders have a history of promoting tolerance and cooperation. committedIt will take years to reduce their dependence upon Russian energy. Russia supplies the continent with 40% of its gas and 25% of its oil.

The United States is already the world’s largestRussia and Saudi Arabia are close behind as energy producers. The U.S. growth in energy production has been largely bipartisan, even though Republicans push for more while Democrats lip service to limiting oil extraction in the name slowing global warming. U.S. oil lobbyists are using Russia’s invasion, and the subsequent energy supply uncertainties, to push for increased fossil fuels production in the name of “energy security.”

More traditional understandings of security have also been upended since Russia’s invasion. Germany announcedIt would send weapons into Ukraine, a first of its kind in post-WWII. It also increased its military spending to 2 per cent of GDP. These moves, along with the cancellation of Nord Stream 2’s natural gas pipeline from Russia and Germany, would have been impossible a few weeks ago. accordingEuropean defense experts. The United States and other North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) countries have long pressured Germany to increase its military spending, and although the new posture is a radically different approach domestically, the international implications aren’t clear.

Since the end World War II Europe has relied upon the United States for its military defence capabilities through NATO. JapanAnd South Korea. Unlike Ukraine, both these countries have bilateral defense treaties with the United States.

Some NATO critics of the left have called on Europe to abandon its dependence on the United States as a defense partner. This argument is made by those who argue that if Europe was less dependent on the United States militarily, it would be possible to dismantle NATO and maybe even scrap the alliance. While this position may make sense in theory, it does not support the larger goal to reduce militarism around the world. Certainly, right now, it’s almost impossible to imagine dissolving NATO, as Russia’s invasion has united the alliance in ways the world hasn’t seen in decades.

It is unlikely that increased military spending in Europe will result in a decrease for Pentagon funding in America, regardless of which party controls Congress. The likely result, then, of Russia’s actions is a significant net increase in military spending from the U.S. and Europe. The House of Representatives will meet Wednesday. passedA $13.6 billion aid package was approved for Ukraine, which includes $6.5 billion in military assistance. U.S. lawmakers also are negotiating next year’s Pentagon budget, which is set to exceed the $740 billion they had previously agreed to, far above the $715 billion the Biden administration had initally requested. It is almost certain to be bad news for climate from a climate perspective, even if you consider the implications of future wars.

Carbon emissions are often caused by military spending. The U.S. military is the “the single largest institutional producer of greenhouse gases (GHG) in the world,” according to a 2019 Cost of War studyBrown University. Another study from the same year showed “that if the US military were a country, its fuel usage alone would make it the 47th largest emitter of greenhouse gases in the world, sitting between Peru and Portugal.”

According to research by Stuart Parkinson, Scientists for Global Responsibility, the trend is similar for other militaries. “I estimate that the carbon emissions of the world’s armed forces and the industries that provide their equipment are in the region of 5% of the global total,” Parkinson wrote2020. When factoring in the effects of war — including fires, deforestation and post-conflict reconstruction — the toll rises even higher. Parkinson estimates that militaries, and their industrial partners, are more polluting than civil aviation. contributesGlobal warming contributes roughly the same amount as Germany and Japan.

We’re forced to rely on estimates because, as a result of U.S. lobbying during the Kyoto protocols, militaries are exemptThey must disclose their carbon emissions to United Nations. The Paris climate accords also don’t require countries to report their military’s carbon footprint, resulting in a massive loophole that countries can exploit. “With military spending rapidly rising, this loophole is set to grow at a time when other emissions are falling,” Parkinson told The GuardianIt was late last year. “The seriousness with how these nations deal with this issue will affect action in other sectors and in other nations.”

As is the case with most of Biden’s agenda, his record on climate change is decidedly uneven at best. The federal government recently facilitated a climate change meeting last month. auctionedNew York and New Jersey have been given a record $4.37billion to go towards wind farms that could eventually power up to 2,000,000 homes. More broadly, in Biden’s first year, he articulated a robust climate policy, by U.S. standards, as part of his Build Back Better spending plan. This plan, along with its green energy components, was defeated in Congress by Joe Manchin, all Republicans, and Kyrsten Sinema, two Senate Democrats. (ManchinHas joined RepublicansIn calling on Biden to increase U.S. oil-and-gas production.

Biden’s actual climate policies, however, bear little resemblance to his rhetoric recognizing the world historic catastrophe that climate change presents. Under his watch, the Interior Department “processed more oil and gas drilling permits during Biden’s first year in office than three of the four years of the Trump administration,” according to Politico. The United States has also drastically ramped up exports of liquified natural gas (LNG), becoming the world’s largest exporter.

Germany is also interested in increaseIts use of LNG to offset dependence on Russian energy exports and possibly extend its use coal plants. The country set out an ambitious plan last year to use renewable energy exclusively by 2035. It’s not clear whether Russia’s actions will accelerate that timeline or disrupt it, but in the short run Germany’s new reliance on LNG is a lateral move at best. U.S. LNG exportersAs European countries seek to offset their energy shortages, they are already witnessing record exports. Recent statistics from report from the Natural Resources Defense Council found “that LNG exports have, at best, little climate benefit compared to other options,” and that “compared to clean, renewable energy sources, LNG falls far short.”

For as much as oil lobbyists and their partners in Congress are exploiting Russia’s actions to ramp up drilling, there’s also the possibility that this moment could lead to a more widespread public awareness of the Dangers that can arisefrom our dependence on fossil fuels. Sen. Ed Markey has said a Green New Deal would be a “pathway for peace.”

The massive refugee flows we’re seeing out of Ukraine right now come after more than a decade of similar displacement from war, poverty and climate crisis. Additional migration and conflict will be more likely if there is more global spending on military operations and a doubling of fossil fuel extraction. The worst can be avoided if everyone takes the opportunity to recommit themselves to renewable energy. But the last week is not encouraging.