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Effect of Russia-Ukraine conflict on Climate Change policy

Speed News Desk | Updated on: 9 March 2022, 14:32 IST
Russia-Ukraine War

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has drawn attention on Russia’s role as one of the world’s top three suppliers of fossil fuels. The United States, Saudi Arabia and Russia are among the leading countries in the greenhouse gas sales business.

As our economy has come to be increasingly dependent on energy as an indispensable item of daily life, the requirement for a dependable and affordable source of energy has become ever more distinct. For all the drawback with fossil fuels, they remain our most important source of energy. Albeit the fossil fuel industry would like us to expand our reliance on their commodity, it is clearly not in our interest to do so.

Even putting aside the environmental harm brought about by fossil fuel extraction and burning, the unstability of supply and price alterations make it a particularly complex resource. The Western country’s capability to wage economic war against Russia for their deliberate destruction of a neighboring sovereign state is undermined by our dependency to their fossil fuels.

“Analysts have said European countries can quickly reduce gas dependence with energy efficiency measures and ramping up renewable energy investments, which are already in line with Europe’s ambition to stop pumping extra greenhouse gases into the atmosphere by midcentury. The war in Ukraine could expedite some of that. It could also result in what Lisa Fischer, who follows energy policy at E3G, a research group, called “a tectonic shift” — making use of renewables, rather than ample gas storage, to achieve energy security.”

In the US, The issue of energy security has been talked about for half a century. The vulnerability of the energy supply in the 1970s led to a call for American energy independence and that call is now being renewed by the drill-baby-drill crowd. That team was overseeing during the Trump Administration and regardless of best attempts, they failed to secure independence. That is not due to the United States lack of fossil fuels, but because we are in a global economy, and there is no real way to keep American-produced fuels in the U.S. if they can get a higher rate elsewhere.

The aim of energy independence has never been realistic; it is simply an exercise in deceptive political symbolism. The only true way to secure real energy independence is to break our dependence on fossil fuels. Renewable energy is the ultimate form of energy independence since no sovereign state owns the sun. Furthermore , as innovation brings down the rate of technology to change solar and wind power to electricity, renewable energy will be less and less costly. Battery technology, essential because of the intermittent nature of solar and wind power is also becoming better. Motor vehicle batteries are becoming lighter while extending their range between charges.

In the nearest future, climate advocates are worried due to the war and need for Russia’s resources seem to have overrided climate change from the political plan. I think it is fully reasonable to turn our focus from climate policy to trying to stop a murderous lunatic from annihilating Ukraine and then possibly turning his attention to other nearby nations. While we struggle for energy supplies to replace Russia’s fossil fuels, the long-term influence of this war could and should be increased demand for renewable energy.

Interruptions in global supply chains are renewing calls for America-first manufacturing and supply lines. This, too, is more deceptive, political nonsense. American manufacturing will expand with increased utilization of automation and artificial intelligence, but not in response to nationalistic symbolism, but because the reduced need for low-cost labor in manufacturing makes it practical.

More and more of the global economy’s wealth is in services and creative production of information, analysis, design, wellness, education, and entertainment. The global, high-tech, brain-based economy is here to stay. The technology of communication, information and transportation makes global production the foremost method to manufacture high-quality, low-cost goods and services. Interruptions from COVID, climate impacts and war will disrupt but not destroy global supply chains. We can expect companies to seek redundant suppliers to cope with interference, but the global economy will carry on its constant march.

Which brings me back to climate policy. The Biden administration’s propose 500 billion dollars subsidy to speed up decarbonization and adjust to climate change are significant initiatives. When the Ukraine war ends or at least stop for a while, this element of the Build Back Better bill should be reinvigorated. The right-wing Supreme Court may well gut the Clean Air Act and deny its earlier George W. Bush-era decision that defined greenhouse gasses as a dangerous pollutant requiring EPA regulation.

Corporate, state, and local decarbonization attempts will carry on anyway. This is especially evident during a climate-amplified hurricane, flood, or forest fire. Most institutions in the US are begining to focus attention to climate change. But the federal government’s role in supporting decarbonization is key.

The Supreme Court’s justices live on Earth along with the rest of us and they should save their anti-regulatory ideological zeal for a policy area that doesn’t cause an existential threat to life. The Biden administration added climate policy in the infrastructure bill and are also using federal purchasing power to help build the green economy. These are important steps, but the challenges of decarbonization will be intence. We need to extend our efforts into the developing world as well since we all live under one biosphere.

The effort to bring down greenhouse gas pollution will be a very long process. Unlike many other forms of pollution, carbon dioxide from fossil fuels and methane discharged from agriculture and waste are deeply rooted throughout our economy. The process of reducing these pollutants will take time. But I am confident that with ingenuity and determination, we can reduce these dangerous pollutants. When we get this form of pollution under control, we will then need to reduce the long-term accumulation of greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere with government-funded carbon capture and storage.

Meanwhile, it is completely relevant to focus on the growing catastrophe in Ukraine. My everlasting worry with environmental sustainability assumes that our leaders live in the real world and have a reverence for the planet and its well-being. It is clear that Vladimir Putin cares for neither people nor the planet.

His misbeliefs are exponentially larger and more perilious than any climate or COVID denier could ever be. The global effort to invalidate Putin is more crucial than any other issue on our political agenda. Standing up against lethal force with economic and political power may prove to be scarce, but it is entirely necessary.

The scenes of suffering in Ukraine are distressing. The rashness of the Russian attack was never more evident than previous week’s attack and near demolition of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in Ukraine.

Also Read: Air India pilot posts evacuation flight video of Indian students from war-torn Ukraine [Watch]

First published: 9 March 2022, 14:32 IST