Ukrainian climatologist fears for his Russian counterpart who apologized for the war

Ukrainian scientist Svitlana Krakovska had never met Russian researcher Oleg Anisimov before the virtual meeting organized by the United Nations last weekend. He was just another government official there to endorse the summary of a disastrous 3,500-word new report that explains how unprepared the world is to deal with climate change. Now Krakovska is worried about the safety of her Russian counterpart.

As the closed meeting ended, Anisimov took the unexpected step of addressing the Ukrainian delegation to apologize for the Russian military invasion. “Anyone who knows what is happening finds no justification for this attack on Ukraine,” he said, according to a person familiar with the discussions and published records of the Intergovernmental Panel meeting. on climate change (IPCC).

The comments were leaked to the press on Sunday. Although there was some opposition to the war in Russia, it emerged that the head of climate change research at the Russian State Hydrological Institute and a person representing the country in an official capacity had expressed their discomfort with the invasion. Anisimov did not respond to questions.

“I’m just worried about my Russian colleague,” said Krakovska, 53, a senior scientist at Ukraine’s Institute of Hydrometry. She spoke to Bloomberg Green from her home in Kiev, where she was sheltering from attacks by the Russian military.

When war broke out, she wrote to the head of the IPCC that her delegation would “keep working if we had an internet connection and no missiles overhead.” But her group had to give up, she said, after some colleagues were forced to take cover from Russian bombs. Her current situation is infuriating: Krakovska’s apartment building has no basement, she says, so she protects herself by going to the bathroom in the middle of the apartment whenever she hears explosions. When the air raid sirens sound, she covers her windows with clothes.

As someone who studied in Russia and has family there, the war has angered her in part because she feels Russia is choosing to use its oil and gas to buy missiles rather than helping his own people. “I’ve traveled through Russia and a lot of people there live in poverty,” she said.

Anisimov’s apology for the Russian invasion came after Krakovska delivered his own remarks at the IPCC meeting, attended by delegates from 195 countries, who drew a direct link between the war in his country and climate change . “Someone might ask us if the IPCC is not a political body and should only assess science related to climate change. Let me assure you that this man-made climate change and the war against Ukraine have direct links and the same roots. These are fossil fuels and humanity’s dependence on them,” Krakovska told her colleagues, speaking in English. “While greenhouse gas emissions have changed the energy balance of the planet, the ease of receiving energy from burning coal, oil and gas has changed the balance of power in the world. human world We cannot change the laws of the physical world, but it is our responsibility to change the laws of human civilization towards a climate resilient future.

In part of her remarks, Krakovska regretted that the war ravaging her home had overshadowed the years of scientific work by hundreds of researchers who participated in the IPCC report released on Monday. She also suggested that “Ukraine can become the subject of study for groups vulnerable to climate change” based on its current experience of “war and growing numbers of refugees.”

Krakovska received her doctorate in 1998 from the same institute where she now works as a senior scientist. Last year, she received an award from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy for leading expeditions to the Arctic and Antarctic. “I’ve traveled the world and seen this beautiful planet,” she said in the interview. “And I want to preserve it for my children.”

This is what motivated her to talk about the climate emergency. Krakovska was one of the authors of the previous IPCC climate science report released in August. She attended last week’s meeting as a member of the government delegation, not as an author. At a previous IPCC meeting, after hearing the words of solidarity from delegations from Canada, the United States and many European countries, she realized she had to say something herself.

IPCC meetings under the auspices of the UN are dark affairs where scientists are careful to avoid political discussions. “I didn’t want to undermine the credibility of the IPCC,” Krakovska said. “But then I realized that this war was not just a war against Ukraine. It is a war against humanity.

That is why she delivered a prepared speech at the closing of the IPCC meeting on the impact of the Russian invasion. “I just want to emphasize that this war is not just against Ukraine but against global security and basic human rights over freedom,” she told the conference.

Krakovska has received many messages from people offering her accommodation outside Ukraine. She enjoys them, but she’s not going anywhere. “Why should I go there? This is my home,” she said. “I don’t want to be a refugee.”

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