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Accord­ing to a study, Rus­si­a’s war against Ukraine has so far caused cli­mate dam­age com­pa­ra­ble to the emis­sion of about 150 mil­lion tons of CO2. Troop trans­ports, refugee move­ments, but also, for exam­ple, by the con­se­quences of fires in build­ings, forests and land­scapes and oth­er nat­ur­al destruc­tion. So far, about a third of Ukraine’s forests have been dam­aged or destroyed.

Study: Cli­mate damange caused by rus­si­a’s war in Ukraine

Russia’s war in Ukraine has caused exten­sive dev­as­ta­tion, includ­ing the destruc- tion or dam­age of homes, schools, hos­pi­tals, and oth­er crit­i­cal pub­lic facil­i­ties, leav­ing cit­i­zens with­out essen­tial resources such as water, elec­tric­i­ty, and health­care. The war has also led to sig­nif­i­cant envi­ron­men­tal dam­age with the destruc­tion of the Nova Kakhov­ka dam in June 2023 as one of the most dev­as­tat­ing events for both peo­ple and nature.

This war impacts the glob­al cli­mate due to the release of sig­nif­i­cant amounts of car­bon diox­ide and oth­er green­house gas­es (GHG) into the atmos­phere. This third inter­im assess­ment con­cludes that GHG emis­sions, attrib­ut­able to 18 months or 555 days of the war, total to 150 mil­lion t CO2e. This is more than the annu­al GHG emis­sions from a high­ly indus­tri­al­ized coun­try like Bel­gium.

Click here for the study. The lat­est ver­sion of the study dates from Decem­ber 2023.

Total GHG emis­sions

Map of destroyed envi­ron­ment

This map by Green­peace gives an idea of the destroyed envi­ron­ment caused by the war.

Ukrain­ian forests

Cur­rent­ly, Ukrain­ian forests have been con­t­a­m­i­nat­ed with explo­sive mate­ri­als due to the ongo­ing Russ­ian-Ukrain­ian war. In both the war zone and for­mer­ly occu­pied ter­ri­to­ries, hun­dreds of muni­tions are being neu­tral­ized every day by pyrotech­nics experts.

In the occu­pied and lib­er­at­ed ter­ri­to­ries, heavy mil­i­tary equip­ment is moved through the forests, mil­i­tary units are locat­ed there, and ongo­ing com­bat oper­a­tions are tak­ing place. The State Forestry Agency has report­ed that more than 40% of for­est fires are a direct result of shelling by the Russ­ian forces.

The war affect­ed approx­i­mate­ly 3 mil­lion hectares of forests in Ukraine, account­ing for almost 30% of the coun­try’s total for­est area. This amount is equiv­a­lent to the entire area of Bel­gium. Addi­tion­al­ly, anoth­er 1 mil­lion hectares in the occu­pied ter­ri­to­ries have been dam­aged. How­ev­er, the forestry in the lib­er­at­ed ter­ri­to­ries is unsuit­able for use and analy­sis due to the need for exten­sive dem­i­ning that could take decades to com­plete.

What can be done about it?

Accord­ing to the authors of the study, the most obvi­ous way to undo the dam­age is to chan­nel funds to the reaf­foresta­tion of destroyed forests and oth­er nature-based solu­tions that remove emis­sions from the atmos­phere. 

PHINEO Star­tups sup­ports the ukrain­ian impact start­up Treep­ilya

Treep­ilya’s mis­sion is to restore and enrich Ukrain­ian forests and nat­ur­al ecosys­tems to pre­serve a healthy envi­ron­ment and accel­er­ate a cli­mate-neu­tral future.

After the attack, part of the team had to flee and is now scat­tered all over Europe: from Kyiv to Vien­na to Barcelona. Nev­er­the­less, Treep­ilya par­tic­i­pat­ed in our incu­ba­tor and accel­er­a­tor pro­gram for impact star­tups.

We have been work­ing with the Treep­ilya team over the last few months. For exam­ple, we were able to win the Chief Tree Plant­i­ng Offi­cer from Ecosia as a men­tor for the team.

And now Treep­ilya has launched a crowd­fund­ing cam­paign on start­next to plant the 1 mil­lion trees far from the front­line in the Vin­nit­sa region: start​next​.com/​e​n​/​r​e​f​o​r​e​s​t​e​r​-​u​k​r​a​ine