Ukraine’s war could be a ‘blessing’ for the climate

GENEVA (AFP) – The head of the United Nations Meteorological Agency said the war in Ukraine “may be seen as a blessing” from a climate perspective as it accelerates the development and investment in green energy in the long term – even though fossil fuels are being used in A time when demand is high now.

Petteri Taalas, Secretary-General of the World Meteorological Organization, made the remarks as the world faces energy shortages – driven in part by economic sanctions against oil and natural gas producer Russia – and rising fossil fuel prices.

This has led some countries to quickly switch to alternatives such as coal. But rising prices for carbon-emitting fuels such as oil, gas and coal have also made higher-priced renewable energies such as solar, wind and hydrothermal power more competitive in the energy market.

The energy crisis has also led many large consuming countries in Europe and beyond to initiate conservation measures, and talk of rationing has emerged in some places.

Talas acknowledged that the war in Ukraine was a “shock for the European energy sector,” and led to a resurgence in the use of fossil energies.

“From the five-to-ten-year timescale, it is clear that this war in Ukraine will accelerate our consumption of fossil energy, and it is accelerating this green transition,” Talas said.

“So we will invest a lot more in renewable energy, energy saving solutions,” he said, and some small-scale nuclear reactors are likely to be operational by 2030 “as part of the solution.”

“So from a climate perspective, the war in Ukraine might be seen as a blessing,” Taalas added.

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He was speaking as the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) released a new report that said electricity supplies from cleaner energy sources need to double over the next eight years to curb rising global temperatures.

This year’s latest annual State of Climate Services report – based on contributions from 26 different organizations – focuses on energy.

The energy sector is currently responsible for about three-quarters of greenhouse gas emissions that trap heat, Taalas said, and called for a “complete transformation” of the global energy system.

He warned that climate change is affecting electricity generation – and could have an increasing impact in the future. Among the risks, nuclear plants that rely on water for cooling can be affected by water shortages, and some are located in coastal areas prone to sea level rise or flooding.

In its report, the World Meteorological Organization noted that in 2020, about 87% or global electricity generated from thermal, nuclear and hydroelectric systems – which produce less carbon dioxide than fossil-fuel plants – depend on the availability of water.

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