Ukraine's President Zelensky: There can be no effective climate policy without peace

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky addressed delegates at COP27 in Egypt via video message. [Screengrab]

Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky has told the United Nations Climate Change Conference summit that Vladimir Putin’s war on Ukraine destroyed five million acres of forests in less than six months.

Addressing delegates in a video message at the COP27 in Egypt on Tuesday, Zelensky said Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has distracted world governments from efforts to combat climate change.

"This Russian war has brought about an energy crisis that has forced dozens of countries to resume coal-fired power generation in order to lower energy prices for their people ... to lower prices that are shockingly rising due to deliberate Russian actions.

"(It) brought an acute food crisis to the world, which hit worst those suffering the existing manifestations of climate change ... the Russian war destroyed 5 million acres of forests in Ukraine in less than six months," said Zelensky.

In his video address, Zelensky wore his trademark green t-shirt. He hit out at world leaders for failing to deliver promises of real change but did not name individual states.

"There are still many for whom climate change is just rhetoric or marketing ... but not real action. “They are the ones who hamper the implementation of climate goals, they are the ones in their offices who make fun of those who fight to save life on the planet, although in public they seem to support the work for the sake of nature.”

 "They are the ones who start wars of aggression when the planet cannot afford a single gunshot because it needs global joint action," said Zelensky.

Ukrainian authorities have also previously accused Russia’s forces of burning large areas of crops, granaries, and agricultural equipment in its vast and fertile Kherson region, and of refusing to allow residents there to put out fires.

Ukraine is hosting an exhibition space this year in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, for the first time at a UN climate conference. However, unlike the other booths at COP27 that are festooned in colourful logos, flags, and greenery, Ukraine's stood out for its bleakness - covered in gravely grey to symbolize the war at home.

Members of Kyiv’s delegation said they hoped their presence drew global attention to the climate and environmental consequences of Russia’s invasion.

“It’s important to show the situation in Ukraine. We have a lot of plans for rebuilding our country. It will be greener.” said Svitlana Grynchuk, the country’s deputy environment minister.