Recent data released by the Copernicus Climate Change Service shows that 2020 was the hottest year ever recorded in Europe. Indeed, 19 of the last 20 years are among the 20 hottest, and the previous seven years occupy the first six lines in this ranking. Thus, we already see that the effects of climate change are no longer just a “theory” but make significant adjustments on the life of the planet, lead to dramatic large-scale changes, and threaten to destabilize socio-ecological and economic systems in different regions (Melnyk et al, 2017).
First is the melting of glaciers, which leads to rising world levels ocean. In July 2020, the Arctic ice cover was a quarter smaller than the average for the last 40 years and the most insignificant since monitoring began. The northern sea route was almost entirely free of ice. Scientists predict the risks of flooding such large coastal cities as London, New York, Hong Kong, Miami, Mumbai, Tokyo, Shanghai, and others. According to various forecasts, by the middle of the 21st century, about 200 million people may be expelled from their territories due to the rise sea level, severe floods, droughts, and other natural disasters, and if the average temperature rises at least another one degree Celsius at least a billion people will have to adapt or migrate to stay in climatic conditions that are best suited for life and work (Melnyk et al, 2017).
Second is the extreme heat. According to the Royal Meteorological Service of Britain, in the last few years, the heat has been killing more people than any other weather cataclysms, in particular, due to the lack of quality products nutrition, exacerbation of diseases, and heatstroke. Those who suffer most from climate change are poor people, homeless people, women, children, the elderly, people with disabilities and chronic diseases, the rural population, opening new aspects of social injustice, as inclusive groups tend to consume less and have less impact on climate change, have fewer resources for adaptation and fewer opportunities for recovery, rely more on natural resources and cannot respond quickly (Ivaniuta et al, 2020).
Climate change is a significant threat that affects people’s lives, including access to quality freshwater, food, habitats, health, environmental impacts, etc. Thus, climate change action is one of the critical goals of Sustainable Development for the coming decades.
Combating global climate change has already become a priority agenda at high-level international meetings. The Head of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, at the World Economic Online Forum in Davos in 2021 called climate protection among the priorities of international cooperation and fighting the pandemic and conserving biodiversity.
Today, the European Union is the undisputed leader in climate diplomacy. Political initiatives and principles of cooperation in EU countries to combat climate change in the following decades were laid in the European Green Deal by the European Commission in December 2019. Its main goal is to ensure a sustainable “green” transition of European countries and the formation of a climate-neutral continent by 2050. The European Commission has defined a clear action plan. The programme emphasises that the planned actions will lead to relevant political, economic and social changes. Therefore, the priority tasks for politics are the following: active public participation, close cooperation among local authorities, civil society, and industry with EU institutions and advisory bodies, and confidence in the transition.
Further, during 2020, the European Council has published several strategic documents, first of all, the agricultural strategy “From Farm to Fork: for the sake of fair, healthy and environmentally friendly food systems”, as well as the Biodiversity Strategy. But no less important are the documents on the circular economy and waste management. The new EU policy is aimed primarily at protecting consumers within the EU. But it is already apparent that we must study it very carefully (Barbier, 2009).
The European Green Deal aims to ensure the transition of EU countries to a just and prosperous society that successfully addresses the challenges of climate change and environmental degradation, improving the quality of life for present and future generations. It reflects a straightforward transformation process of economic development with new rules and eco-approaches towards the greening of the European economy. Such approaches are also relevant for Ukraine.
The transition will focus on the socio-economic costs associated with the shift in the most affected regions. It will fund projects to create new jobs through business support, assistance in job search, and retraining for those who lost their jobs.
Where is the Ukrainian way to sustainable success? In 2020, the Government of Ukraine also announced its intention to join the European Green Deal. Such aspirations are essential, given the need to develop a Ukraine policy that considers today’s environmental in general and climatic in particular challenges.
As a party to the Kyoto Protocol and the Paris Agreement, Ukraine has committed itself to limiting emissions and adapting to climate change. In 2016, Ukraine announced its goal of limiting greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 – not to exceed 60% of 1990 levels. However, this level of emission reduction is not ambitious in the context of the Paris Agreement, as it envisages an increase in national greenhouse gas emissions by 75% by 2030 compared to 2017. Among the strategic obligations of Ukraine is also the implementation into national legislation of the requirements of the Directive 2012/27/EC of the European Parliament and the Council “On Energy Efficiency” in the framework of the ratified Treaty establishing the Energy Community.
By analogy with other countries, the success of decarbonization in Ukraine depends on the direction of development of the energy sector, which accounts for 68% of greenhouse gas emissions. There has been a rapid growth of renewable energy sources in the energy sector in recent years, which is a vital component of the energy transition. However, at present, such growth, caused by untimely changes in government incentives, has led to a “green coal” paradox that increases greenhouse gas emissions.
In 2020, the project “Concept of ‘green’ energy transition of Ukraine until 2050” was presented by the Ministry of Energy and Environmental Protection of Ukraine due to the transformation of approaches to energy development in the world and exceptional attention to the problems of combating climate change . In the same year, the Parliament supported the initiative to establish a State Decarbonization Fund by the Ministry of Energy of Ukraine. The source of the State Decarbonization Fund is 50% of the environmental tax (1 EUR/ton), which will be charged for emissions of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere by stationary sources of pollution from January 1, 2021, which is about 1.35 billion UAH. The funds will be used to co-finance projects that reduce emissions (Barbier, 2009).
Adopting the proposed changes will help create conditions for improving the efficiency of fuel and energy resources, stimulating energy efficiency, and the use of modern technologies, which will reduce costs and increase the competitiveness of Ukrainian products.
Ukraine’s involvement in the European Green Deal will require updating the annexes to the Agreement about the association and the revision and harmonization of national and regional strategies for the development of economic sectors in terms of their climatic ambition.
Olga Stefanishyna (2020), Deputy Prime Minister of European and Euro-Atlantic Integration of Ukraine, stressed the following points concerning the ambitious plans of Ukraine related to the issues of climate change:
– creation of a subcommittee at the Council of Associations or initiation in a format a separate body of the Green Deal Dialogue at the highest political level on the Ukrainian and European sides;
– development of a Roadmap for Ukraine’s participation in the EPC within this framework dialogue, which will be the basis for budget planning, planning of the Government’s activities taking into account the course for the green economy;
– implementation of this Roadmap after its approval by the European Union.
To sum up, a governmental interdepartmental working group on issues coordinating the effects of climate change within the initiative European Commission “European Green Course,” taking into account the results of several stakeholder consultations, including with the bodies of executive and legislative power, expert and scientific environment, non-governmental organizations, associations prepared and sent the European Union a position paper on possible accession mechanisms of Ukraine to the European Green Deal.
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