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Kerry says concerned Russia-Ukraine war will negatively climate crisis

The Biden administration's climate czar is concerned that war will steal focus from climate change

February 24, 2022 2:34pm

Updated: February 25, 2022 10:21am

John Kerry, the Biden administration climate envoy, cautioned just hours before Russia's invasion of Ukraine early Thursday that a war would have a huge, detrimental impact on the climate crisis because of the "massive emissions" that will be produced.

In an interview with BBC Arabic, Kerry said, "I'm concerned about Ukraine because of the people of Ukraine and because of the principles that are at risk, in terms of international law and trying to change boundaries of international law by force.

"I thought we lived in a world that had said no to that kind of activity. And I hope diplomacy will win."

The former secretary of State also said, "Equally importantly," to the emissions caused by war, "you're going to lose people's focus, you're going to lose certainly big country attention because they will be diverted and I think it could have a damaging impact," he said.

Russian forces invaded Ukraine on Thursday in a full service attack that included land air, and sea components.

It is the largest military invasion in Europe since WWII.

Kerry, however, hopes that Russian President Vladimir Putin will ultimately be swayed to roll back his wartime behaviors by the ways in which climate change has impacted his own nation. 

"So, you know, I think hopefully President Putin would realize that in the northern part of his country, they used to live on 66% of the nation that was over frozen land," he said.

Kerry also said the "infrastructure" of Russia is at risk and he hopes Putin will "help us stay on track with respect to what we need to do for the climate," as he invades Ukraine.