2019 was the second hottest year on record globally since recordkeeping began back in 1881. In Ukraine, it was the hottest year on record. These events have caused a shift in the way Ukrainians view the dangers of climate change, and the climate strike in Kyiv in 2019 was a strong indication of this. Government officials have promised to regulate industrial polluters in a new green transition strategy, but will this be enough to keep the worst effects of climate change from occurring?
Carbon Neutral by 2050
The European Commission, the executive branch of the European Union (EU), has proposed the Green Deal, which is a group of policies designed to make the EU carbon neutral by the year 2050. In the past, Ukrainian officials had promised to reduce carbon emissions in their country by 40 percent by the year 2030, when compared to levels in 1990. The Ukrainian government is currently reviewing its obligations under the Paris Agreement of 2015.
Politics of the EU Green Deal
Some worried Ukrainians believe that the shift in the government’s attitude has more to do with politics and adhering to the Green Deal and not the risks of climate change itself. For example, there will be a tariff on imported goods that carry a heavy carbon footprint. This will only leave common Ukrainian citizens with higher prices to pay on certain goods, argue skeptics. Very few citizens feel the EU’s policies are based on concern for common citizens and the risks to their livelihoods and quality of life.
Steps in New Strategy
Improving the energy efficiency of buildings is a big part of cutting down on carbon emissions in the government’s new strategy. The new strategy also involves transitioning from coal to renewable energy sources. Having electric transportation options including electric cars, buses and trains are supposed to be part of this transition away from coal. The government wants to shut down all coal mines by 2050 and get 70% of its electric energy from renewable resources. The dependence on nuclear energy will also be reduced to 20% to 25% of what it currently is.
However, many citizens feel like this is all talk as more records are broken every year. In 2019, Ukraine had temperatures that were 2.9 degrees Celsius higher than normal. Up to thirty-six temperature records were broken in 2019, and this trend will most likely continue.