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Russia's war has had devastating environmental impacts: UK statement to OSCE

Russia's war has had devastating environmental impacts: UK statement to OSCE


Thank you Chair. To our keynote speakers, Minister Dalli, Minister Panayiotou and Secretary General, dear Helga, thank you for your remarks. Thanks also to our panel of experts.

Before I talk about today's important topic, it would be remiss of me not to acknowledge the tragic death of Alexi Navalny, who dedicated his life to exposing the corruption of the Russian system. It is clear that the Russian authorities saw Navalny as a threat, so they imprisoned him on trumped-up charges, poisoned him with a banned nerve agent, and sent him to an Arctic penal colony. No one should doubt the brutal nature of the Russian system. Our thoughts are with his family, his supporters and the people of Russia. We will return to this issue at the next Permanent Council.

In addition to acts of internal repression, Russia's war of aggression has had devastating effects on the environment, with far-reaching consequences in Ukraine and beyond its borders. At a time of global climate crisis, Russia's actions demonstrate a blatant disregard for the environmental consequences of war.

We have witnessed the widespread destruction of Ukraine's critical infrastructure, including industrial facilities and power installations. This has led to severe pollution and environmental degradation, which pose a threat to both human health and ecosystems over large areas.

While the risk of a radiological release thankfully remains low, Russia's seizure and continued occupation of the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant (ZNPP) remains a cause for great concern. Russia should immediately withdraw its forces from Ukraine and return full control of the nuclear facilities at the ZNPP to their rightful owner to ensure safe and secure operation and minimize the risk of an incident with catastrophic environmental consequences.

The UK sees an undeniable link between climate, nature and security. Environmental and climatic factors can act as catalysts and multipliers for conflict. And our environment and climate can be affected by military activity.

The growing climate and nature crisis requires us to consider more carefully the environmental impact of military actions. Tackling climate change and biodiversity loss is one of the UK governments top international priorities. It is underpinned by a commitment to achieve net zero emissions by 2050. The UK Defense Establishment is fully committed to playing its part. Climate change is now seen as a whole defense issue in the UK.

The intersection of gender, conflict and environment is a complex and crucial field. Existing gender inequalities mean that the impact of climate change and disasters fall disproportionately on women and girls. Inequality means that their access to resources is limited and their exposure to risks and losses caused by disasters is increased. Recognizing these impacts is essential to sustainable recovery and peace efforts. Women and girls are often excluded from formal systems to address the drivers of climate change, but are key to finding localized solutions.

We welcome this important discussion today. The OSCE's comprehensive approach to security makes it the right place to discuss the intersection between security and climate. We are grateful to the Secretary-General and the Chair for continuing to make climate security a key topic within the organization.




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