Green course of Ukraine and resistance to Russian manipulations: Interview with Olha Stefanishyna

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The UN climate conference, in which Ukraine also participates, is taking place in Glasgow. On the first day of the event, Russia has already tried again to legalize the occupation of Crimea by adding data on the peninsula to the report on greenhouse gas emissions. But Ukraine and partner countries quickly stopped these manipulations.

Today, November 1, President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy will speak at the conference. He will talk about Ukraine’s vision of the implementation of the Paris Agreement (an agreement under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, which regulates measures to reduce carbon dioxide in the atmosphere from 2020, – ed.). He will also take part in other important events with foreign leaders.

What else can we expect from this conference and what are the tasks of the Ukrainian delegation, – said Deputy Prime Minister for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration of Ukraine Olha Stefanishyna on the sidelines of the UN Climate Change Conference in an exclusive interview with TV channel Dom.

– We are in Glasgow now. What is the purpose of the Ukrainian delegation’s participation in the 26th United Nations Conference on Climate Change? What are the main tasks you set during the visit?

– Today is the opening of the official conference, the day of presidents. We are waiting for the speech of the leaders of the countries. First of all, as Ukrainians, we are waiting for the speech of our President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who will voice all the main messages that will mean Ukraine’s position in the negotiations. And I, as the head of the delegation, will work them out after this speech with the delegation.

Of course, we pay attention to our ambitious goals, which we set in the second nationally defined contribution. We say that achieving such goals is a joint work that depends on Ukraine and its partners, because we have chosen European integration, which means the unification and interdependence of markets. That is why it is important for us to be heard by international partners.

The second block of issues concerns access to finance through the decarbonisation process. Here Ukraine is involved in a large number of processes. And we also hope to hear today about the position on additional initiatives that Ukraine can promote in the framework of the implementation of the commitments to the Paris Conference.

– We often hear that Ukraine is trying to take a leading position on the path to green transformation. What is the current synchronization in Ukraine?

– The government, the president has a rather pragmatic approach. We recognize that the European green course is a policy shaped for the largest market in the European Union. In fact, other countries that are not members of the European Union depend on this market.

That is why we have chosen a strategic approach, not a protectionist one. We have chosen a course of joint policy-making. That is why we have launched a dialogue with the European Union on a European green course. This means that Ukraine’s voice is heard during negotiations and policy-making, in particular, as part of the preparation of a decision on the so-called CBAM – carbon tax. We are quite successful in this.

That is why we can afford to set ambitious goals, because we understand that we share this responsibility not only through the prism of the government’s work, but also with international partners.

– Regarding the possible closure or reorientation of coal mines in Ukraine – this is such a painful issue for the East. What else can be heard about this or what is known about it in Ukraine?

– The government has already decided that the gradual closure of mines will take place. We have defined a strategy for the fair transformation of coal regions. The first is that in the draft budget for 2022, we have pledged funds for such a fair transition. Here is an element of our synchronization with the general mainstream of green transformation. But, in terms of implementing this strategy, we primarily proceed from our national interests, issues of social justice and set ourselves such time limits that will be acceptable to our society.

They may not be as ambitious as in the European Union. But we are worried for our citizens, for our economy, for the well-being of our population, so, adhering to these ambitions, we expect a longer time to implement this strategy.

– Do you attend any events here? What events will take place and in which Volodymyr Zelenskyy will take part?

– Today is first of all a day of presidents, a leadership day. Tomorrow, the President will also take part in some events related to Ukraine’s accession to some initiatives. Today will be the main day when the head of state will make a speech and statement on Ukraine’s contribution and Ukraine’s vision of the implementation of the Paris Agreement on the basis of the principles I have already emphasized.

Also tomorrow, together with US President Joe Biden and the President of the European Commission, the President of Ukraine will take part in an initiative to reduce methane emissions. There will be a small number of leaders. The policy we declare allows us today to be, so to speak, in the top league of policy makers.

Our pavilion operates in parallel with the work of the day of presidents, near the French pavilion, the pavilion of Morocco. Members of the delegation, members of the public and financial institutions can gather here. After the end of the presidential part, I will work with the whole delegation, holding meetings with financial institutions, working within the agenda of the conference itself, as well as, of course, fighting against Russian aggression on relating to those territories which are annexed and actually taken away from Ukraine by the Russian Federation.

– Yesterday we heard a lot of support from Canada and the United States during the plenary session on recognizing the territorial integrity of Ukraine. What is Ukraine doing to ensure that Russia’s reports, which include data on the occupied territories of Ukraine, are not recognized?

– This is a standard, clear policy of the Russian Federation on the legalization of the occupied territories with the help of any tools. This applies to the Climate Conference, the Postal Union, and any international platform where such pseudo-legalization can be promoted.

Ukraine’s position is unshakable: we understand this policy, Ukraine is at the forefront of Russia’s hybridity. Therefore, our position is that on all agendas there are representatives of the Ukrainian delegation, who defend the position on the impossibility of including Ukrainian territory in the reports of the Russian Federation and the need to refer in each position to the UN Security Council resolution on Ukraine’s territorial integrity.

At the same time, throughout this year, even before this conference, we negotiated with partner countries, with the countries participating in the conference. And the work that is happening during these two weeks is a common part of the policy of not recognizing the annexation of Crimea and recognizing Russia as a party to the conflict.

– The panel discussion of the Ukrainian delegation is called “Ukraine 2030”. Why this date?

– This is a global trend, because all global policies are now formed for 10 years – as well as nationally determined contributions. The emission reduction program, as a European green course, is also a 10-year policy. In addition, the national economic strategy of Ukraine, where the red line is the issue of decarbonization, is also designed for 10 years.

Ukraine has determined in the framework of the submission of the Second National Defined Contribution to the Paris Agreement that by 2030 we will reduce emissions to 30% from 1990, and by 2060 we will achieve certain climate neutrality. That is, the next 10 years is a turning point in the transformation of the country’s economy. That is why it is a vision, a strategy and we will talk about it today.

– Does all Ukrainian business understand this? Because we talked to the delegation yesterday. They said that some European institutions refuse to finance Ukrainian businesses that are not ecological-friendly. Do you see any awareness?

– I can definitely confirm that the European institutions do not refuse to finance and support the Ukrainian state, Ukrainian business, but in the part that corresponds to our common policies. It is obvious. But I would like to draw attention to the fact that for large Ukrainian companies, decarbonisation and the transition to ecological-friendly technologies is an irreversible reality.

All companies want to increase production, develop markets. This is no longer possible without the transition to new technologies. Therefore, there is no discussion here. This is not a question of the European Union, but it is a question of additional investment. We are negotiating with the European Union to create a financial platform to coordinate these resources. At the same time, for small and medium-sized businesses, the “green transition” is a platform for opportunities for new areas of business, the development of new supply chains. There are many opportunities, first of all, for the development of small and medium-sized businesses, and their growth on a larger scale.