In 2020, Ukrainian climate network has conducted all-Ukrainian polling «Climate change and climate adaptation». Its outcomes are presented as a brochure recommended for use by local self-government bodies and non-government environmental organizations.
Climate change is one of key problems of nowadays society, as it threatens its security. UN Inter-governmental expert group on climate change estimates that ground air temperature since 1970 rises faster than ever during previous two thousand years. And the last decade turned out to become the warmest one during last 170 years. In Ukraine, average annual air temperature in last twenty years has been rising three times faster than the global one. The last decade turned out the warmest one instrumentally observed. This is why in Ukraine changes have seriously impacted temperature mode, and schedules of precipitation, wind patterns, while natural disasters have become more severe and occured more often. Though these changes were not homogeneous within the country, they had their regional peculiarities.
What do people think – how does climate change impacts the regions? What do local and state authorities have to do to adapt cities and villages to climate change?
These and other questions were answered by 3765 respondents. The polling took place in August–October 2020 and covered whole Ukraine, even Crimea, Luhans’ka and Donets’ka regions. Respondents were interviewed in Kyiv, Poltavs’ka, Zaporiz’ka, Dnipropetrovs’ka, Ivano-Frankivs’ka and Rivnens’ka regions, by members and volunteers of NGOs «Umka», «Ekoltava», «Ekosense», «Voice of Nature», «My home is Manyava», «Ekoklub».
Oksana Maryuk, Head of Ukrainian climate network, spoke on the outcomes. Basic conclusion: in all regions people feel the consequences of climate change and are aware of need for adaptation. 44% Ukrainians have noticed climate change in last 3–5 years, and 22% — in last 10–15 years. Only 3% respondents noticed nothing like climate change at all.
The polling shows that climate change is more profoundly exposed in south-eastern Ukraine — Zaporiz’ka and Dnipropetrovs’ka regions. «These data demonstrate the real condition of climate system, as this very period in Ukraine was likely the warmest one in last 100 years. The last decade, especially years 2016-2020 became the hottest since 1900, both in Ukraine and the rest of the world, and 2020 in Ukraine was the warmest one ever instrumentally observed. Southern and eastern regions in last years have known shortage of precipitation, mostly in warm seasons», – comments Vira Balabukh, head of department, practical meteorology and climatology, Ukrainian hydrometeorological institute of Ukrainian Emergency Service and Ukrainian Academy of Sciences, Candidate of geography, senior staff scientist. From a scientific point of view, one can observe the biggest changes in northern east — in Chernihivs’ka and Sums’ka regions.
The main reason for climate change is human activity – this is what most (85%) Ukrainians think. Together with that, 58% believe that industry has aggravated climate change most of all. Half of Ukrainians (49%) know that ploughing and deforestation harms climate. Only 33% are aware of fossil fuel burning as a chief climate change factor, and only 12% realize the influence of emissions from animal breeding.
58% respondents, especially those from southern and central regions, note that because of climate change they feel heat, stuffiness, droughts more distinctly, while western regions do not mark these changes relevant. The problem is typical for central and southern regions. Ivano-Frankivs’ka and Rivnens’ka regions, though, were struck by heat even less than other western regions. Poorer quality and less quantity of potable water, dry-ups of springs, wells, rivers, strongly affect 48% Ukrainians. The problem disturbs citizens of Poltavs’ka and Kyivs’ka regions the most.
55% participants have noticed more frequent occurrence of following phenomena: infectious diseases and allergies, cardiovescular diseases and newly emerged illnesses.
46% respondents complain of withering, death of plants, increase in pests, and plant diseases. Southern East and central Ukraine suffer from it particularly hard. These phenomena were pointed out by 52% citizens of Poltavs’ka region, 49% — from Zaporiz’ka and 47% — from Dnipropetrovs’ka region. Disastrous meteorological phenomena affect Ukrainians insignificantly, as only less than one third mentioned them. Another one third has noted the impact of showers, squalls, snowstorms, and dust storms.
A considerable part of respondents have said that climate change harms their welfare, as they have to spend more on municipal services. Electricity consumption rises as well as costs for irrigation and air conditioning. Excess spendings on municipal services are mostly mentioned by Dnipropetrovs’ka (54%) and Zaporiz’ka (46%) regions. Another 23% inform about harder conditions for planting and animal breeding, decline in harvests. These issues were mentioned primarily by Poltavs’ka (50%) and Dnipropetrovs’ka (42%) regions.
27% Ukrainians have noted the influence of climate change on their general state of health and labour ability because of heat, droughts, rain or snowfall. This is relevant mainly for Zaporiz’ka (53%), Rivnens’ka and Dnipropetrovs’ka (50%) regions. Another consequence is more frequent occurrence of infectious and viral diseases (23%). «This outcome is expectable if we have a look at what currently goes on in Ukraine. More sultry days, longer periods of heat and higher maximum temperature increase heat stress, cause repeated cardiovescular diseases, higher mortality of ischemia, higher occurrence of respiratory and neural diseases, diabetes, mental disorders. Here seniors are the most vulnerable, as well as people with chronic illnesses, and infants, especially from big cities», – explains Vira Balabukh.
73% Ukrainians think that agriculture suffers from climate change the most, 70% name forest resouces and 65% — water resources. The latter entry was heard generally from Poltavs’ka region (84%). It is worth saying that citizens of Rivnens’ka and Ivano-Frankivs’ka regions (correspondingly 85% and 83%) consider agriculture the most vulnerable sphere. An insignificant share of respodents think that it is tourism that suffers the most from climate change.
«Alteration of thermal rate leads to emergence of newly introduced invader plants (cow-parsnip, ragweed and other) that can provoke allergic reactions, disseminate insects and rodents that are agents of infectious diseases like vernal encephalitis, malaria, dengue fever etc. High temperature during cold seasons within Ukraine is predominantly between 5⁰С and –5⁰С. These conditions are favourable for viral diseases like flu», – adds Vira Balabukh.
Most Ukrainians think that within the country the most vulnerable to climate change remain agriculture, forest and water resources. It is just the same conclusion as the one made by experts and World meteorological organization. These branches need support from the government in the first place.
How to adapt?
93% polled Ukrainians think adaptation measures are to be taken in cities and hromadas. They mostly stand for more green zones, reconstruction of old and construction of new sewerage systems. From scientific point of view, enlarged green zones can indeed not just decrease air temperature, wind velocity and precipitations flow, but also dramatically decrease СО2 emissions, as greenery is natural accumulator of carbon.
73% Ukrainians propose more greenery and development of new rules and methods of verdurization in cities and towns with taking into consideration climate change and local peculiarities. 68% stand for reconstruction of old sewerage systems and construction of new drainages for rainwater, and reservoirs for rainwater.
51% claimed that the state has to manage forest resources efficiently. 38% suggest higher penalties for violation of environmental legislation. 37% insist that precisely the state must oblige enterprises to decrease greenhouse gases emissions.
The polling shows that Ukrainians do not counteract climate change actively enough. Only 47% respondents segregate waste or prevent its generation. The highest entry rate is in Ivano-Frankivs’ka region (62%), the lowest one is in Dnipropetrovs’ka region (34%). 46% respondents plant trees. This entry has the highest rate in Ivano-Frankivs’ka region (55%) and the lowest one in Kyivs’ka (36%). It is remarkable that around one third of Ukrainians conserve energy (35%). It’s worth saying that only 30% Ukrainians use ecological traffic. 29% Ukrainians tend to avoid using plastic and polyethylene packages, 28% eat mostly local food, repair stuff instead of buying new things (19%), while only 6% refuse from meat and dairy products.
Recommended adaptation measures
Ukrainian climate network has proposed some adaptation measures taken throughout the world and useful for Ukraine.
Milder influence of droughts on agriculture – combining trees and cereals (France). Aridity is overcome by increase of natural water storage, collection of rainwater (Portugal, Italy) and water saving (Spain), enlargement of green zones.
To increase population’s stability against heat stress one has to predict heat and inform publicity on it, arrange green passage ways for fresh air and against heat waves, create «cold zones» in big cities — public areas with lower temperature. These solutions are successfully implemented in Germany and France.
Risk of underflooding is decreased through use of areas within cities for temporary storage of excess liquid (Hungary, Denmark).
Women complained more often to increased occurrence of infectious diseases, allergies, worsening of coronary diseases and emergence of new kinds of illnesses connected with consequences of climate change, anxiety and fear to lose their jobs. Climate injustice appears since women more often mention they find it difficult to pay for municipal services, as their cost rises, because of climate change, too. This means electricity for air conditioners, water for irrigation and drinking. Another thing that polling shows is that women, more often than men, tend to counteract the consequences of climate change personally, and are more active in the issue.
“Climate change impacts more severely vulnerable social groups, women in particular, – states Oksana Aliyeva, coordinator, program “Climate change and energy policy” by Heinrich Boell Fund, Office Kyiv – Ukraine. – Research by UCN confirms this fact for Ukraine. More to that, vulnerable social groups, including people with incomes below the average, women, seniors usually consume less and respectively less contribute to climate change. They at the same time possess less resources and chances for climate change adaptation. This is why it is very important to consider precisely their opinions and needs while developing and implementing local and national climate policy, particularly plans on adaptation to consequences of climate change”.
Antonina Platonova, main specialist, department of adaptation to climate change and of climate accountability, notes that planning local adaptation measures lies within local government’s competence, according to National strategy of environmental security and adaptation to climate change by 2030. Here public opinions received through polling «Climate change and climate adaptation» better be considered, too.
Olesia Kramarenko, CEO deputy, utility enterprise «Institution of development, Zaporizhzhya», told how outcomes of polling «Climate change and climate adaptation» help elaborate plans of urban development. Reconstruction of public gardens has to consider higher temperature and the need to plant more shady trees, and plant streets with more drought-enduring species.
Yuriy Ivanyshyn, deputy mayor, Solotvyne, Ivano-Frankivs’ka region, accounts that local amalgamated hromada wants to consider adaptation measures, particularly, it plans to collect rainwater to counteract floodings.
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This polling is carried out under financial support of Heinrich Boell Fund, Office Kyiv — Ukraine, Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA) through Swedish Society for Nature Conservation (SSNC), and international fund «Vidrodzhennya» under financ