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Is Ukraine the first climate change war?

As the west goes NET ZERO Russia’s powerful position on the fossil fuel world stage starts to look precarious. Consider the lengths Putin would go to regain it.


I know this isn’t the narrative we’ve been hearing in the news, but bear with me.

As the west goes NET ZERO (another term I’m not keen on, but I’ll save that for another day) Russia’s powerful position on the fossil fuel world stage starts to look precarious.

With more than 130 countries who produce 88% of the global carbon emissions signing pledges, the leverage Putin has right now simply can’t continue.

How do you think he feels about that?

Consider Russia’s geopolitical clout and, if undermined, the lengths someone like Putin would go to regain it.

How manipulative do you think he could be?

As demand for fossil fuel drops and the impact of climate change increases, should we expect to see food and land become something that people fight to control, for their own security and to wield power on the world stage?

We’ve gone to war to protect oil supplies; would we go to war over food supplies?

We already know that climate change through droughts, flooding and heatwaves is dramatically affecting agriculture and food production.

Perhaps this fight has already begun.

Perhaps one of the reasons for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine (at least to begin with) was to gain control of Ukraine's hugely fertile and productive agricultural sector, which is more efficient than Russia’s?

Ukraine’s agricultural output is staggering.

  • Ukraine exports 42% of the world’s sunflower oil
  • 9% of wheat
  • 10% barley
  • 16% of maize

Taken together, Ukraine and Russia would account for 64% of the world’s wheat exports (UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation, 2019).

If you also take fertile neighbours Belarus and Kazakstan into account, then Russia would have a very significant portion of world food production under its influence at a time when yields across many parts of the globe are falling.

So maybe we’re seeing a conflict that’s not only driven by attempting to re-assert the concept of a Russian Motherland but also, at its core, it’s about control of food supply.

Of course it could all just be the actions of a dangerous mad man!

Chatham House, the Royal Institute for International Affairs produced a report in early April which explored this in more detail, and reminded us what we can all now see with our own eyes.

Russia’s war in Ukraine has shaken both global politics and international resource markets, and is likely to result in long-term impacts on economies and societies around the world.”

We all know food prices on the supermarket shelves had been rising before this conflict due to Covid, supply chain, energy and climate issues, but there’s no doubt Putin’s actions have exacerbated the problem.

So what’s the solution?

I wish I knew.

I’m not here to offer solutions to the big problems that are out of our control, but I am here to help you make sense of them.

I believe that we need to pay attention, and not just take what we’re presented with at face value.

I also know that taking all the different sources of news and trying to read between the lines is exhausting (I say that from experience), and not everyone wants to.

But I can’t help myself - it’s simply what I have to do to navigate this chaotic world.

You’re a business leader who's likely downloaded my White Paper “Why purpose, why now? The role of marketing in a world of overconsumption”.

You strive to do better. You want your business to serve both people and planet - not contribute any further to its destruction.

And to do that we need to be willing to think deeper about what’s going on around us.

I hope to bring an alternative point of view or perspective you’ve not considered before, and let’s talk about them.

If things are to change, I believe business can play a leading role.

What do you think?

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