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Opinion: The Media Must Make the War in Ukraine About the Climate Crisis

Photo by Simon Abrams on Unsplash

In the last few weeks, the war in Ukraine has stolen most of the world’s media attention. So much so that climate advocates complain that news of the war now overshadows the much more important UN climate report, released on Monday the 28th of February which got very little media attention.

But it would be wrong to disconnect those two issues as they’re very much connected.

Media outlets must understand and must start to report how these two issues are very much interlinked.

Linking the war in Ukraine and the climate crisis

First, as I have previously argued; conflicts and wars do nothing but slow down and halt action on climate change. In the shadow of the old USSR, the economy of Ukraine has been hugely reliant on fossil fuels. But a reason for Putin’s invasion is that the country is moving further away from Russia and closer towards the European Union (EU) and western values.

This means they have in recent years started to take action on climate change with several new low-carbon projects alongside its 15 nuclear reactors, and, of course, the official line in the country is that the climate crisis is a clear and present danger.

Ukraine has in the wake of the invasion demanded immediate membership of the EU, with many member states keen on speeding up the process. Were this to happen, they would need to sign on to the EU’s ambitious agenda to tackle climate change. And perhaps most important; recognize that what is fuelling the climate crisis is also fuelling and funding the war in Ukraine: fossil fuels.

The topic of weaning ourselves off Russian oil and gas in the wake of the invasion has become front and centre in newsrooms around the world. But, unfortunately, news outlets are not linking this to the climate crisis.

Many climate advocates would undoubtedly welcome the sidelining of the Russian oil and gas industry, but they would rightly argue that fossil fuels are not only fuelling this war but also the prime cause of the climate crisis. News outlets should lead a campaign not only to speed up efforts to ease our reliance on fossil fuels to deal both with the current war in Ukraine and to take action on climate change.

By Anders Lorenzen. This story originally appeared in A Greener Life, a Greener World and is republished here as part of Covering Climate Now, a global journalism collaboration strengthening coverage of the climate story.

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