By Gloria Dickie
LONDON (Reuters) – As scientists readied for Monday’s release of a sobering United Nations climate report, some worried it would be overshadowed by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The report – described by U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres as “an atlas of suffering” – calls for concerted efforts by governments to prepare for a warmer world.
But few could ignore the plight of the sole Ukrainian report author, a botanist who described taking cover in a Kyiv bomb shelter during the final line-checking of a report for the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that took three years to put together.
“The battles are taking place both outside the city and in the city, where Russian paratroopers appeared,” Yakiv Didukh told Reuters, having spent the night taking refuge from his 11th floor apartment in Ukraine’s capital.
“People are worried, but we do not panic,” said Didukh, who works at the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine.
The invasion rattled participants of the virtual IPCC proceedings on Sunday morning, as political delegates and scientists held a final session after two weeks of negotiating the report’s summary for policymakers.
“The Ukrainian delegation spoke this morning at the final closing. I will not repeat what she said because I think I would become much too emotional trying,” said IPCC lead author Daniela Schmidt during a Sunday briefing.
When the invasion began last week, the Ukrainian delegation told IPCC organizers that they might pull out of the final document review if the internet or electricity went down, Schmidt said. The Ukrainians “expressed how upset they are that this will distract from the importance of our report”.
Scientists at the meeting said the Moscow delegation also apologised on behalf of Russians opposed to the conflict.
Authors expressed “personal solidarity with the Ukrainian delegation”, according to Hans-Otto Portner, an IPCC report co-chair.
Some worried the painstaking work and conclusions would end up being ignored.
“We live in a world where there’s constant competition for headlines,” the other IPCC report co-chair, Debra Roberts, told Reuters.
Others noted the report’s gravity demanded attention.
“You are looking at the survival of humanity and the survival of ecosystems as we know them,” said lead author Philipus Wester, from the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development in Nepal.
(Reporting by Gloria Dickie; Additional reporting by Jake Spring; Editing by Katy Daigle and Alex Richardson)