Ukraine aims to develop its economy without increasing its carbon emissions

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Post-Soviet state upped its climate ambition, but campaigners say it could do more to insulate drafts and promote clean energy

Ukraine plans to cut emissions slightly while growing its economy, reducing poverty and waging war with Russia, according to its latest climate plan.

The country, one of the poorest in Europe, aims to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions from 62% below 1990 levels in 2019 to 65% below 1990 levels in 2030.

Environment and Natural Resources Minister Roman Abramovsky told Climate Home News through a translator that the goal was only possible with “huge decarbonization based on the unit of GDP “. The recent government national economic growth strategy projects annual economic growth of up to 7% per year and industrial development.

This is Ukraine’s “very first real ambition,” according to government adviser Oleksei Riabchyn, who has represented his country in several UN climate negotiations.

As with many countries in the former Soviet Union, a 1990 benchmark makes Ukraine’s emission reductions impressive. But they are largely the result of the economic collapse that followed the disintegration of the Soviet Union, rather than climate policies.

Ukraine’s previous Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) to the Paris Agreement, submitted in 2016, had a 2030 target of only 40% below 1990 levels. This would have allowed for a large increase in emissions from ‘today and was judged “Critically insufficient” by Climate Action Tracker, aligning with more than 4 ° C of global warming, and not with the objective “well below 2 ° C” of the Paris Agreement.

“In all the approaches compatible with limiting the reheating below 2 ° C, [Ukraine’s] emissions are expected to decrease steadily, ”said Climate Action Tracker.

Acknowledging the criticisms, Abramovsky said “we are pretty sure that hopefully the current NDC will be much closer to the 2C scenario”.

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Anna Ackermann, an activist for Eco Action, based in Kiev, said that the target was “much better than the last … but of course it is not too ambitious either … To keep the world at 1.5 ° C, emissions should be halved by 2030 each country must contribute. The 2% reduction promised by Ukraine therefore does not meet this global need.

She added: “Considering the enormous potential that exists for reducing emissions by introducing energy efficiency measures and further developing energy production from renewable energies, the 2030 target is, in my view. point of view, quite easily achievable. Ukraine has a lot of big, drafty old apartment blocks.

Abramovsky said the target was “quite ambitious” compared to other developed countries on the basis of emissions intensity.

Between 2018 and 2030, Japan plans to reduce 39%, the EU 41%, the UK 46% and the US 47%. But their forecasts for economic growth are all well below those of Ukraine.

“Another aspect is that we have to achieve all this in the context of Russian aggression,” said Abramovsky, “unfortunately we have to spend a lot of state resources to protect our territory and under peaceful conditions these resources could serve energy efficiency and other social issues in Ukraine ”.

The Russian occupation of parts of eastern Ukraine makes it difficult to determine the country’s total emission levels and impossible for Kiev to implement climate policies in areas it does not control.

“When the territories return, we must review and reassess the action plans and greenhouse gas emissions of these territories. Of course, there is a question in what kind of condition they will return and what will need to be done in terms of redevelopment, reconstruction and revitalization. We do not see any other development path for these territories than new technologies, ”he declared.

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Ukraine’s emissions reduction target is conditional on access to € 102 billion ($ 120 billion) in financing. Abramovsky said the government was reforming the rights and integrity of investors to encourage private investment, including in green projects. It will make an offer of funding from the EU, the United States, the World Bank and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. As it is classified by the UN as a developed country, it is not eligible for funding from the Green Climate Fund.

The climate plan is also conditioned on “a stable and predictable trade policy and the absence of restrictions and barriers” on the part of developed countries, a coded reference to EU policy. proposed carbon tariff on imports of certain products.

Abramovsky said: “Such an external mechanism would create more difficult conditions for modernization and complicate the achievement of goals. “

Ukraine is trying to negotiate special treatment with the EU, as a member of the “energy community”. Ukraine is one of the biggest exporters of cement, steel and electricity to the EU and these products are all covered by the carbon tax at the borders.

On energy, Abramovsky said Ukraine plans to develop renewable energy, keep nuclear output above 50% while phasing out coal in a way that does not devastate mining communities.



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