Short winter without snow and hot summer is a reality to which Ukrainian hydrometeorologists advise to adapt.
The climate of Ukraine has changed due to global warming over the past 50 years. If the situation does not change on the planet, temperatures could rise by 3.5-6 degrees Celsius by the end of this century.
In order to stop global warming, today the Conference of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change has begun. This year's event will become historic: the representatives of 198 countries will sign a new treaty on Climate, which is also called the "plan of action to save the planet."
The conference will take place at the Paris-Le Bourget Exhibition Center from 30 November to 11 December.
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Jean-René Brunetière, head of the Buildings and Energy Efficiency Initiative at the Climate Chair at Paris University, invites us into one of the classrooms. The thermometer to measure room temperature is peeping out from the pocket of his jacket. He carries it everywhere in order to show how irrationally people waste energy.
"I was in Kyiv a few years ago. It was winter, the hotel got unbearably hot and there was no temperature controller. I opened the window to reduce the temperature, aired the room out and warmed up local birds," – smiles Jean-René.
The researcher’s thermometer shows that the room temperature is 26 degrees Celsius at a rate of 19. Even here, at the Climate Chair much more energy than necessary is wasted.
The problem of irrational energy consumption is global, and thus it can be solved only collectively.
The scientist explains that climate change is caused by carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere due to human activities. Over a period of more than twenty years, more than two thousand researchers have been dealing with this issue within the international body the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
In 1988, the United Nations Environment Programme and the World Meteorological Organization came together to create the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which has become the global source for the assessment of scientific information relating to climate change and the formation of strategies to respond to these changes.
These very data comprise the basis for the adaptation plan that is currently on the agenda at the conference in Paris.
According to recent studies, sea-level rise will increase due to the melting of glaciers and small islands will soon go under water.
If the situation does not change on the planet, the temperature on Earth will increase, on average, by 3.5-6 degrees Celsius by the end of this century, and it will be fatal for a number of species.
"It is no exaggeration to say that responsibility for the lives of our children lies with us. If temperature rises by 2 degrees in the near future, global warming processes will become irreversible.
If we want to achieve climate balance, we must move away from the model of fossil fuels. Countries have to commit themselves to abandoning the use of fossil fuel only,"- says Nicolas Hulot, advisor to the President of France on environmental issues.
Short winter – long summer
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change includes two Ukrainian representatives of the Ukrainian Hydrometeorological Institute ??? and NAS of Ukraine. The institute data are used to forecast changes in temperature.
"This year we have had the warmest winter over the entire period of observation. In Kyiv, the last date of ground frosts falls on February 22. For the first time in living memory, there have been no freezing temperatures, nor even ground frosts since the winter turned to spring. Earlier, ground frosts occurred even in June," – Vira Balabukh, head of the department of synoptic meteorology at the Ukrainian Hydrometeorological Institute, explains the outcomes of climate change in Ukraine.
Winter minimum temperatures increased, the winter became comfortable and lasting hard frosts disappeared. A real winter with frost and snow does not last three months, but rather only three weeks.
The rise in temperature leads to the fact that in the winter precipitation falls mostly as rain and sleet and slush build-up is becoming more intense.
"Do you remember how it was last year – the snow was melting, sticking to the roof and trees and broke them? This is very dangerous and sometimes may have adverse consequences. The lack of snow cover in the winter causes the rivers to have less water supplies. Instead, in the summer the maximum temperatures rise and evaporation increases," – says Vira Balabukh.
In Ukraine, climate change has been studied at the Ukrainian Hydrometeorological Institute since the 1960s.
The role of Ukraine
For Ukraine it is not only a duty as a member of the UN Framework Convention to participate in the conference but also a unique chance to declare its readiness to move to alternative energy sources – and eventually get rid of the energy dependence.
Among the issues of greatest interest is what Ukraine's contribution to global climate change treaty will be.
In preparation for the treaty, our government drafted a project of the justified contribution of Ukraine, which was approved and confirmed at the state level and submitted to the UN Secretariat. In order to develop the justified contribution of Ukraine a number of national experts in the framework of the UNDP (KlimaIst???) relevant international projects and the US Agency for International Development (USAID) have been involved.
Natalia Hozak, a coordinator of WWF climate projects in Ukraine, explains that currently Ukraine suggests reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 40-55% from its level in1990.
"But in real fact, after 1990 our economy has slowed so markedly that such a" reduction" means the actual increase in emissions by 6% or even 41% as compared to 2012 (depending on the chosen input option)! Civil servants claim that a difficult economic situation as well as a need for post-war reconstruction of the economy account for such a pitiful state of affairs since they do not as yet acknowledge the fact that the development of economy should not necessarily mean an increase in emissions.
Energy efficiency and alternative sources of energy only reduce dependence on imported gas," – says Natalia Hozak.
That is, nominally, Ukraine promises to significantly reduce emissions, but in fact it is already too late to do anything.
The Ministry of Environment makes it clear that the specified target is reasonable, considering the military-political situation in the country and the need for economic recovery and higher living standards.
"I strongly support zero emissions, but this plan is compliant with a number of state structures and is based on several studies including studies of the economic situation. We have developed five scenarios of our actions always allowing for the possibility of reducing the amount of emissions depending to what extent the situation in the country will become stable,"– says Vladyslav Vezhnin, Director of the Climate Policy Department of the Ministry of Environment.
Time to adapt
At a conference in Paris not only a new climate policy will be prepared, but also countries will be obliged to develop plans to adapt to climate change. All countries will be required to sign a commitment to the development of these plans, and at the same time, developed countries will allocate funds for adaptation measures in poor countries.
"This factor can have a positive effect for Ukrainians since the period of crop capacity increases. Our summer comes two to three weeks earlier and ends later. According to the estimates of climate models, this period will increase.
It is necessary, for instance, to shift seeding time of winter crops. There have already been talks about harvesting crops twice a year in several areas. Also, the time for recreation and relaxation increases.
“Ukrainians will have work to do,” – sums up Vira Balabukh.