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Conflict in Ukraine found causes significant greenhouse gas emissions

Christian Fernsby |
An international team of scientists examined the first 18 months since the beginning of the conflict in Ukraine, exploring its consequences beyond the loss of life, with the primary focus on military emissions.

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Their findings underscore limitations in the current emission reporting framework of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

Under the Paris Agreement, signatory countries are obligated to report their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to the UNFCCC to evaluate emission reduction efforts and establish more stringent goals for limiting the global temperature increase.

In their study published in the journal Science of the Total Environment, the authors show that accurately accounting for GHG emissions released into the atmosphere is crucial.

"Our findings highlight that military emissions pose an unusual challenge, as they are not explicitly accounted for in current reporting frameworks as GHG emissions, and particularly those from human activities, are typically estimated using so-called "activity data," such as fuel use, traffic counts, and other socioeconomic data," explains Linda See, a study author associated with the Novel Data Ecosystems for Sustainability Research Group in the IIASA Advancing Systems Analysis Program.

Study lead author Rostyslav Bun, professor at the Lviv Polytechnic National University in Ukraine and WBS University in Poland commented on the impact of the war on Ukraine's ability to collect fundamental activity data since 2022, pointing out that the country's infrastructure, including data collection capabilities, has been significantly compromised and destroyed as a result of the conflict.

The study focuses on emissions resulting from wartime activities that may not be covered in official national reporting.

It suggests that the sum of such unaccounted emissions of carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide for 18 months of the war exceeded the annual emissions of some European countries, such as Austria, Hungary, and Portugal.


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