What's New :
UPSC CSE Result 2023.Download toppers list

The environmental costs of the Russia-Ukraine War

  • Published
    24th Feb, 2023

With the first anniversary of the war between Russia and Ukraine, the environmental cost of War has raged across the countries and is claimed by Ukraine as over 50 Billion Dollars.

  • The war has killed thousands, displaced many more, left many with debilitating injuries, flattened towns and caused immeasurable suffering.
  • The machinations of modern war impact the environment in more ways than one.
  • From sky-high fuel consumption and a ginormous carbon footprint to the degradation of thriving ecosystems caused by the fighting, the conflict in Ukraine has racked up environmental costs that will far outlive the actual fighting.

What are the Environmental losses that occurred?

  • Fighting-induced destruction: According to UN Environment Programme data, the conflict has seen damage across many regions of the country, with incidents at nuclear power plants and facilities, energy infrastructure, including oil storage tankers, oil refineries, drilling platforms and gas facilities and distribution pipelines, mines and industrial sites and agro-processing facilities.
    • The result has been multiple air pollution incidents and potentially serious contamination of ground and surface waters.

According to claims by Ukraine’s environment ministry, altogether the losses from land, water and air pollution amounted to $51.4 billion.

  • Astronomic carbon footprint: The war has an extremely large carbon footprint. Ukraine estimates the emissions from Russia’s invasion to be roughly around 33 million tonnes of CO2 from the conflict and 23 million tonnes of CO2 from fires caused by the conflict.
    • It predicts that the reconstruction of infrastructure and buildings destroyed or damaged during the war could emit 49 million tonnes of CO2.
    • The monster machines used during the war, consume roughly between 3.5-5.5 litres of fuel per km. For comparison, a modern car can travel well over 15 km per litre of fuel consumed.
  • Violation of Environmental conventions: Russia has violated several environmental conventions in terms of destroying nuclear and radioactive elements, pollution and carbon emissions.

The war against Environment:

Military activity has significant impacts on the environment. Not only can war be destructive to the socio-environment, but military activities produce extensive amounts of greenhouse gases (that contribute to anthropogenic climate change), pollution, and cause resource depletion, among other environmental impacts.

  • Greenhouse gas emissions and pollution
  • Land and resource use

Global Conventions:

  • From a legal standpoint, environmental protection during times of war and military activities is addressed partially by international environmental law.
  • Several United Nations treaties, including the Fourth Geneva Convention, the 1972 World Heritage Convention and the 1977 Environmental Modification Convention have provisions to limit the environmental impacts of war.
  • The Environmental Modification Convention is an international treaty prohibiting the military or other hostile use of environmental modification techniques having widespread, long-lasting or severe effects.
    • The Convention bans weather warfare, which is the use of weather modification techniques for the purposes of inducing damage or destruction. This treaty is in force and has been ratified (accepted as binding) by leading military powers.
GS Mains Classes GS Classes 2024 UPSC Study Material

Verifying, please be patient.

Enquire Now