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Image by James Wiseman

Advocating for Accountability in Ukraine at COP28

My name is Alisa Goloschapova, Project Coordinator for PEJ’s Ukraine program. I lead our team that is currently working in Ukraine, focusing, among other topics, on the damage left on Ukraine’s land by Russia's invasion.


In December, I had the opportunity to attend the 2023 United Nations Climate Change Conference in the United Arab Emirates. COP28, the 28th Conference of the Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, took place from November 30 to December 12, 2023. The COP28 conference is an international climate summit meant to herald urgent change for climate action. It provides a key international platform for countering the climate crisis while influencing countries’ national policies.


Our Ukraine team partnered with Truth Hounds, a Kyiv-based nonprofit meant to document and investigate human rights violations and other international crimes committed in places like Ukraine, the Caucasus, and Central Asia.

The Ukraine Pavilion at COP28

Together, we hosted a side event about climate crimes in Ukraine. The event, titled War on Environment: Protecting Dams and Nuclear Power Plants,” highlighted the risk posed by the ongoing war on dangerous infrastructures in Ukraine and we focused in particular on the impacts of the destruction of the Kakhovka Dam. The participants included experts from Greenpeace Germany, the Ministry of Environment of Moldova, the Ukrainian Climate Network (UCN), and an NGO called Ecoaction.

During this event, we described Russia’s destruction of the Kakhovka Dam on June 6, 2023, and previous occupation-related threats to the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant (ZNPP).


The occupation of the ZNPP since March 2022 poses an unprecedented risk of a large-scale nuclear disaster, which, as reported by Greenpeace, has the potential to surpass the magnitude of Chernobyl or Fukushima. Mines and ammunition have been placed in the area surrounding ZNPP, particularly near the main lube oil unit containing highly flammable oil used to cool the steam turbine. This raises safety concerns.


Truth Hounds presented a recently published study revealing a systematic campaign of abductions, tortures, and other abuses of ZNPP workers by occupying forces in collaboration with Russian State Nuclear Energy Corporation, Rosatom. This event highlighted the need for European nations and other countries worldwide, including the 54 in which Rosatom operates, to sanction it.


The destruction of the Kakhovka Dam has had disastrous consequences on the environment, including desertification, water supply and soil contamination, biodiversity disruption, and ecosystem destruction. The ongoing collaborative investigation between Project Expedite Justice and Truth Hounds aims to establish individual criminal responsibility for this war crime.


Not only does the attack on the Kakhovka Dam undermine global commitments to climate change mitigation, but it also jeopardizes global food security. As such, participants at COP28 stressed the imperative for individual states to condemn such attacks, demanding criminal responsibility for planners, perpetrators, and abettors of these war crimes.


As the COP28 conference progressed, international efforts intensified to address environmental and climate damage that results from armed conflicts, with 20 states already supporting the International Environmental Declaration launched on December 9, 2023.


Thanks to supporters like you, we were able to reach change-makers in person and advocate for supporting this declaration, which aims to legally establish the Global Platform for the Assessment of Environmental and Climate Damage as a consequence of war.


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Alisa Goloschapova


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