13:04 PM

Study Suggests Significant Greenhouse Gas Emissions Linked to Ukraine Conflict

Washington, D.C. -- January 19, 2024. A recently released study sheds light on substantial greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions associated with the war in Ukraine. Examining the initial 18 months since the conflict’s commencement in 2022, the study emphasizes the intricacies of monitoring GHC emissions during wartime. It also underscores a limitation in the current emission reporting framework of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), tailored exclusively for peacetime scenarios. The findings are now published in a journal entitled Science of the Total Environment. The research team, led by Prof. Rostyslav Bun of Ukraine’s Lviv Polytechnic National University and WBS University in Poland, includes co-author Dr. Tomohiro Oda from the Universities Space Research Association.

Photo showing a missile explosion in Ukraine.  Image Credit: Prof. Bun

Photo showing a missile explosion in Ukraine. Image Credit: Prof. Bun

Under the Paris Agreement, signatory countries are obligated to report GHG emissions to the UNFCCC to evaluate their emission reduction efforts and establish more stringent goals for limiting the global temperature increase. "Accurately accounting for GHG emissions released into the atmosphere is crucial," stated Dr. Oda. However, Dr. Oda, representing the United States,  through Universities  Space Research Association, as a United Nations’ Conference of Parties (COP) Observer, highlighted the challenge that military emissions pose as they are "certainty uncertain" and not explicitly accounted for in the current reporting framework.

GHG emissions, particularly those from human activities, are typically estimated using so-called “activity data”, such as fuel use, traffic counts, and other socioeconomic data.   Prof. Bun, residing in Lviv, commented on the impact of war on Ukraine's ability to collect fundamental activity data since 2022. The country's infrastructure, including data collection capabilities, has been significantly compromised and destroyed due to various war-related activities. Prof. Bun emphasized that following the current U.N. convention would attribute all emissions to Ukraine, including those resulting from war-related damages.

While tracking war-time military is challenging due to the nature of military activity and lack of information, the research attempted to estimate GHG emissions using the best available data. The study suggests that GHG emissions from Ukraine's territory during the 1.5-year period exceeded the annual emissions of some European countries, such as Austria, Portugal, and Hungary. Dr. Oda remarked, "The war impacts our ability to monitor emissions via the activity data-based reporting globally, not just regionally, as seen in global food security and humanitarian issues." He stressed the importance of emission monitoring using atmospheric observation which relies less on and is independent of activity data.

Researchers from the United States, Poland, Austria, and Finland also contributed to this study. The findings will be presented and further discussed at the European Geoscience Union (EGU) General Assembly 2024 in Vienna, Austria, scheduled for April 2024.

Additional Resource: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0048969724000135

Bun, R., Marland, G., Oda, T., See, L., Puliafito, E., Nahorski, Z., Jonas, M., Kovalyshyn, V., Ialongo, I., Yashchun, O., Romanchuk, Z.: Tracking unaccounted greenhouse gas emissions due to the war in Ukraine since 2022, Sci. Total Environ., https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2024.169879, 2024



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Founded in 1969, under the auspices of the National Academy of Sciences at the request of the U.S. Government, the Universities Space Research Association (USRA) is a nonprofit corporation chartered to advance space-related science, technology, and engineering. USRA operates scientific institutes and facilities and conducts other major research and educational programs. USRA engages the university community and employs in-house scientific leadership, innovative research and development, and project management expertise.  USRA is also an UN COP Observer.  More information about USRA is available at www.usra.edu.