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Environmental impact of the war in Ukraine

Question écrite de M. César LUENA - Commission européenne

Question de M. César LUENA,

Diffusée le 14 mars 2024

Subject: Environmental impact of the war in Ukraine

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has caused tens of thousands of deaths and casualties and has led to a refugee crisis affecting more than 6.4 million Ukrainians. Besides the human and humanitarian catastrophe, the environmental and climate impact of the war is affecting ecosystems, causing species to be lost, producing chemical pollution and waste and driving up global emissions.

International mechanisms for monitoring greenhouse gas emissions do not currently include military activities, as they do not take into account armies’ considerable carbon footprint. No effective regulations or mechanisms are in place to calculate or limit war-related pollution. Limited access to information and a lack of precise data compiled on the environmental damage caused by the conflict makes the full environmental impact is hard to measure. The situation poses considerable challenges.

In light of this:

1. What information does the Commission have on the environmental impact of the war in Ukraine?

2. What steps can the Commission take to urgently deal with the issue from an international standpoint?

3. How can the Commission strengthen legal frameworks to protect our environment in times of conflict?

Submitted:15.3.2024

Réponse - Commission européenne

Diffusée le 22 mai 2024

Answer given by Mr Sinkevičius on behalf of the European Commission (23 May 2024)

The Commission follows closely the environmental and climate consequences of Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine. In cooperation with the United Nations (UN), the Government of Ukraine and the World Bank Group, the Commission released on 15 February 2024 an updated joint Rapid Damage and Needs Assessment (RDNA3), with a focus on environmental infrastructures.

The Commission has also supported a Post-Disaster Needs Assessment targeting the Kakhovka Dam area, led by the UN.

The Commission’s Joint Research Centre provided support on radioactivity monitoring, water and soil related issues, pollution accidents, dam breach anticipatory and post-disaster analyses and the destruction of forests by fires.

There are international initiatives to which the Commission has contributed in reaction to wide environmental damages, such as the recent UN Environment Assembly resolution on environmental assistance and recovery in areas affected by armed conflict (1), the Kyiv Environmental Declaration (2) aiming to launch a ‘Global Initiative for Environmental Damage Assessment from Military Conflicts’ and the High Level Working Group’s Environmental Compact (3) published in February 2024, which contains 50 recommendations on damage assessment, accountability and green recovery.

The case of Ukraine allows to further the global community’s understanding of what must be done to protect the environment from conflicts.

Lessons include the necessity of a comprehensive legislation on environmental crimes, of a continuous development of international humanitarian law, and of improved guidance on the management of post-conflict situations.

1 ∙ ⸱ https://resolutions.unep.org/resolutions/uploads/2403882e.pdf

2 ∙ ⸱ https://www.kmu.gov.ua/en/news/mizhnarodni-partnery-prodovzhuiut-pidtrymuvaty-ukrainu-ta-hotovi-doluchatysia-do-dovkillievoi-deklaratsii

3 ∙ ⸱ https://www.eeas.europa.eu/delegations/ukraine/commissioner-sinkevi%C4%8Dius-ukraine-discuss-environmental-consequences-war-and-eus-ongoing-

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