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During COP28, individuals from Ukraine and Palestine presented their arguments for climate justice.
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for Climate Justice During COP28, individuals from Ukraine and Palestine presented their arguments for climate justice.

Despite facing conflicts within their own countries, representatives from Ukraine and the Palestinian territories are actively participating in COP28. They are determined to bring awareness not only to the environmental challenges their nations are facing, but also to highlight their presence in the global community.

Ukraine, participating in its second international COP conference, is utilizing its pavilion in Dubai to draw attention to the significant environmental harm resulting from Russia’s invasion. They are also presenting proposals for preventing ecocide on a global level.

Ruslan Strilets, the Minister of Environmental Protection and Natural Resources for Ukraine, stated to VOA that the delegation’s goal is not only to bring attention to the environmental and climate impact of the war, but also to unite and involve the global community in achieving justice and peace.

Strilets stated that Ukraine is dedicated to combating climate change.

“Despite the ongoing war, Ukraine remains committed to developing its climate architecture and meeting its climate obligations. We aim to gather additional partners at COP28 to work towards a greener future for Ukraine and the global community,” stated the speaker.

The exhibition at the Ukraine pavilion is divided into three main sections. One section tells the story of a devastating explosion that occurred in June at the Kakhovka Hydroelectric Power Plant dam, resulting in flooding of several towns and villages and causing the death of over 50 individuals.

The second section showcases the Ukrainian people’s quick actions to reconstruct what has been destroyed by the war, while the third section outlines the consequences of the war on the environment.

This week, while visiting the Ukrainian Pavilion, Moldova’s Energy Minister Victor Parlicov showed support for the COP28 Environmental Declaration and restated the belief that Russia should be held accountable for the environmental damage caused by the war.

Zuzana Caputova, the President of Slovakia, and Keit Kasemets, the first deputy minister of climate for Estonia, were also among the guests who visited the pavilion.

Officials from Palestinian territories gather inside the Palestine pavilion at COP28 in Dubai, UAE, on Dec. 3, 2023. (Bilal Hussain/VOA)

Officials from Palestinian territories gather inside the Palestine pavilion at COP28 in Dubai, UAE, on Dec. 3, 2023. (Bilal Hussain/VOA)

Ahmed Abuthaher, the director general of the Environment Quality Authority based in the West Bank, stated to VOA that his team is participating in the Dubai conference to promote a message of humanity and showcase the importance of treating all people equally.

“We require convenient access to financial resources in order to address climate change. In addition, there are issues of water scarcity and desertification in certain regions,” he stated, expressing optimism for assistance from the recently announced Loss and Damage Fund during the initial day of the conference.

According to a report from the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in June 2022, 78% of the piped water in Gaza is not safe for people to drink.

The COP28 pavilion’s official webpage states that the Palestinian leadership acknowledges the importance of collaborative efforts across different sectors in meeting the conference’s climate goals and promoting a sustainable and resilient future.

Abuthaher stressed the Palestinian dedication to joining COP28 and urged the international community to take decisive measures in tackling the challenges faced by the Palestinian population.

Several studies have documented the environmental harm caused by Russia’s complete invasion of Ukraine, including a report from the U.N. Environment Program in October 2022. The report found that nearly 1 million hectares (3,800 square miles) of land were significantly affected, with 812 specific sites at risk.

According to a report from VOA in January, the consequences of the war have impacted Indian-administered Kashmir, leading to a decrease in migratory birds as noted by ornithologists.

Ievgeniia Kopytsia, a delegate at COP28 and member of Oxford Net Zero at the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom, stated that the ongoing conflict is contributing to the growing levels of carbon emissions, which are linked to the global rise in temperatures.

“In addition to the environmental pollution caused by the conflict,” she informed VOA, a considerable quantity of greenhouse gases have been released into the air “due to the use of fuel for military activities, utilization of ammunition, fires caused by bombing and shelling, and efforts to rebuild civilian structures.”

In July of 2022, at a conference of world leaders in Lugano, Switzerland, the Ukrainian government presented the first draft of its 10-year plan for national recovery. This plan outlines suggested paths for recovery in key industries, with an estimated total cost of $750 billion.

Participation in events like COP28, according to Kopytsia, has the potential to transform this vision into a tangible outcome.

She stated that participating in worldwide climate efforts could promote international relations and open avenues for aid in resolving conflicts.

Simon Chambers, director of ACT Alliance, a global alliance of over 145 churches and other organizations from 120+ countries, stressed the need to address the impact of conflict on the environment not just in Ukraine and Gaza, but worldwide. This alliance provides humanitarian aid to disadvantaged individuals and communities.

“It is possible to achieve climate justice and a just transition to cleaner sources of energy,” he stated in an interview with VOA. However, this will require collaboration from all sectors of society, including governments, non-governmental organizations, and businesses.

“We need to put the needs of the creation, of people and the planet ahead of profit and power,” he said. “If we all act in the face of the urgency of the climate emergency, it is possible to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement and to do so in a way that is just.”