The War in Ukraine and Climate Change

The G20 Bali Summit held 15–16 November 2022 has been called the “first global summit of the second cold war” (Foy and Ruehl 2022). It was the seventeenth meeting of Group of Twenty (G20), which was held in Nusa Dua, Bali, Indonesia. The reviews of this meeting suggest that it was a breakthrough in international understanding of the threat that the Ukraine conflict poses for the entire world.

In March, 2022, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution demanding Russia end its military operations in Ukraine, but many nations such as India abstained to take a neutral stance rather than be in opposition to Russia.[1] Fast forward to November and the whole world appears to more clearly see how the Russian offensive is directly responsible for the cost of energy soaring, the cost of living rising across all regions, and food shortages in the developing world tied to costs and the interruption of grain and other produce from Ukraine. The economic, food and energy crises worldwide, particularly in the global south, are directly related to the war and are leading nearly all nations to disapprove if not condemn Moscow.

During the 2022 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Sharm El-Sheikh (COP27), there was disappointment about the war in Ukraine slowing moves away from fossil fuels and climate change targets. However, it became clear during that meeting that the war needs to end – Russia needs to move its troops out of Ukraine – in order for the world to get back on track in reducing carbon emissions and achieving the goals tied to halting climate change. Surrendering to unprovoked and illegal Russian aggression in Ukraine would be catastrophic for the world, so it is absolutely paramount for the world that the G20 movement began to put more pressure on Russia. Because of this, there is more hope that an end might well be reached sooner rather than later.

No one knows the formula for convincing Russia to end its war in Ukraine. The civilian lives and devastation being caused in Ukraine are unbelievable, but there is a growing international recognition and consensus on the global harms caused by this invasion. These realisations cannot help but move Russian leaders closer to concluding that they must end their military operations and leave Ukraine. Until then, it is reassuring to see the US, UK, EU, and many other nations continuing to support the Ukrainian defence of the sovereignty of their nation. Timothy Garton Ash (2022) developed this point so well in his opinion piece, arguing that the “only path to peace lies in helping Ukraine fight this war”. Forcing some compromise before Russia leaves Ukraine would be a global disaster.


The Financial Times reports that in October, just over a third (36%) of Russians “said they believe the fighting [in Ukraine] should continue” (22 November 2022). Loss of support among the Russian people might be even more important than the decline of support for Russia by nations around the world.


Ash, T. G. (2022), ‘The only path to peace lies in helping Ukraine fight this war’, The Guardian, 24 November: Opinion, p. 3.

Foy, H. and Ruehl, M. (2022), ‘How Russia and China buckled in the face of a united G20’, The Financial Times, 18 November: p. 8.


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