Equilibrium & Sustainability

Equilibrium/Sustainability — Half a million Kyiv homes without power

AP Photo/Alexei Alexandrov
People get a bus at a bus stop in front of damaged during a heavy fighting apartment building in Mariupol, Donetsk People’s Republic, Ukraine, Friday, Nov. 4, 2022.

Almost half a million homes in Kyiv had no electricity on Friday morning, following widespread Russian attacks on the country’s energy infrastructure.  

The number of residents in Ukraine’s capital who lacked power on Friday surged by 150 percent from the previous day, according to the city’s mayor, Vitali Klitschko, The Wall Street Journal reported.

“I appeal to all residents of the capital: save electricity as much as possible, because the situation remains difficult!” Klitschko wrote on Telegram.

Since Russia began pummeling Ukraine’s power grid over the past month, more than a third of the nation’s power-generation capacity has been debilitated, the Journal reported.  

Moscow has hit dozens of power stations with cruise missiles and Iranian-manufactured kamikaze drones, according to the Journal. Meanwhile, at least eight more drones were shot down overnight, Ukrainian officials told the newspaper.  

In his nightly address on Thursday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky described the infrastructure attacks as “Russian terror,” while demanding “a powerful global response.” 

At the time of his address, Zelensky estimated that some 4.5 million consumers were disconnected from power supplies — in Kyiv and in 10 other regions.  

“To endure Russian energy terror and such a challenge is our national task, one of the main ones now,” Zelensky said.   

“The very fact that Russia resorted to terror against the energy industry shows the weakness of the enemy,” the Ukrainian president added. 

Welcome to Equilibrium, a newsletter that tracks the growing global battle over the future of sustainability. I’m Sharon Udasin. Sign up in the box below.

Delving further into Ukraine’s energy crisis, we’ll begin today in Germany, where world leaders agreed to respond to the attacks. Plus: A look at how dwindling snowpack is affecting the Colorado River system.

G7 countries to help rebuild Ukrainian infrastructure

Delegates from seven major global economies agreed on Friday to coordinate support for the reconstruction of Ukraine’s battered energy and water supplies, Reuters reported.  

‘As long as it takes’: The Group of Seven (G7) countries — which include the U.S., Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the U.K. — came to this agreement at a two-day meeting in Germany, according to Reuters.

  • The decision follows a string of Russian attacks on the Ukrainian power grid that have spurred widespread blackouts.
  • “We will stand firmly with Ukraine for as long as it takes,” the foreign ministers of these nations said.  

Urgency, with few details: The G7 statement signed by each country established a “coordination mechanism” to help Ukraine “repair, restore and defend its critical energy and water infrastructure,” The Washington Post reported. 

While the diplomats said it was crucial to act immediately, ahead of winter, the statement did not set a timeline for their plan’s implementation, according to the Post.

Weapons of war: In a joint discussion with Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Thursday, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock warned that infrastructure attacks are being used “as a weapon of war.”  

Children at risk: “Putin is bombing Ukraine – not only cities, not only power plants, but infrastructure,” Baerbock said.

  • “We have been talking of what the winter will mean,” she continued.
  • Ukrainian children, Baerbock added, will be “in danger of being frozen to death because they don’t have any electricity and any heating anymore.”  

Purpose of place: The G7 delegates gathered on Friday in the German city of Münster, whose symbolic importance was recognized by some attending diplomats, according to the Post.

  • This was the same spot in which the Treaty of Westphalia was signed at the end of the Thirty Years’ War in 1648.
  • Diplomats said on Friday that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine challenged the global order that these centuries-old agreements helped establish.  

International order at stake: “If we let that be challenged with impunity, then the foundations of the international order, they’ll start to erode and eventually crumble,” Blinken said in his Thursday discussion with his German counterpart.   

“And none of us can afford to let that happen,” the secretary of State added.

Threats to Colo. snowpack pose risks far downslope

As unseasonable fall warmth bakes the Rocky Mountain hillsides, veteran snowmaker Tony Wrone has come to terms with the fact that these are no longer the winters of his youth. 

Wintry warmth: “Last year, we had a real hard time because it was so warm in November,” Wrone, a snowmaking manager at the Aspen Snowmass resort, told The Hill. 

  • Wrone said he is concerned that these conditions may repeat themselves, particularly because meteorologists have once again predicted a hot, dry fall.
  • What will happen this winter is anyone’s guess.   

Awash in uncertainty: As climate change shakes up weather systems worldwide, a region known for its snow has become increasingly uncertain just how much longer its mountainsides will be coated in white.  

We explore this predicament in the latest installment of The Hill’s Dried Up series, which is shedding light on the impacts of drought on the U.S. West.   

Snow is slipping away: Like the rest of the Western U.S., the Rocky Mountains are at the mercy of an unforgiving drought, the region’s worst in more than 1,000 years.

  • At the literal top of the water cycle, the lack of snow threatens both the livelihoods that depend on it and the water needs of those hundreds or even thousands of miles away.
  • “We can think about the Western snowpack as kind of the ultimate reservoir of water for us in the West,” said Sam Collentine, chief operating officer and a meteorologist at the snow forecasting service OpenSnow. 

Spring depends on snow: As snowfall has become more unpredictable, so has the amount — and timing — of runoff that feeds the Colorado River each spring. 

  • “The main thing that I’ve seen is uncertainty around water planning for the Colorado River,” Collentine said.
  • Peak runoff time has typically been around mid-April, but with a changing climate that peak is inching forward by as much as four weeks, according to Collentine. 


The coming winter is promising to be a La Niña year — when winters tend to be colder in the U.S. Northwest and warmer in the Southeast.  

This would be the third consecutive such season in which cold ocean temperatures stretch over the equatorial Pacific, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. 

Colorado Rockies could go either way: But what a third La Niña season means for the Colorado River headwaters region is uncertain.

  • This part of the Rockies sits on the meteorological divide, what expert Scott Handel described as a “battleground zone” where there are equal chances that the winter could go in either direction.
  • Such a “triple-dip” La Niña has occurred only twice since the 1950s, according to Handel, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service’s Climate Prediction Center.  

Fall is not looking good: While Handel could not predict this winter’s snowfall, he offered an ominous outlook for the remainder of the fall.  

Most of Colorado, he said, would receive below-normal precipitation this season, and the range of the ongoing drought is only expected to increase. 

“That’s not good news,” Handel said.


Ski resort areas such as Aspen have underground water storage that has historically served as a buffer, said Auden Schendler, senior vice president of sustainability at Aspen Skiing Company. 

The economy of snowmaking: The process of snowmaking itself is what Schendler described as “a way to operate your business” that offers some stability.

  • “If you’re in a ski town, you’ve hired someone,” he said. “And you’ve told them they’ll have a job on Thanksgiving.” 
  • Snowmaking, he continued, is therefore a key element in creating “an economy that’s semipredictable.” 

Accounting for the climate threat: Schendler, however, expressed pessimism about the ski industry’s long-term survival amid the changing climate, stressing that “there’s too much warming in the system.”  

In general, he said, industry “hasn’t responded as if they saw the climate as the threat it is.” 

Flexing ski power: As a powerful and generally wealthy sector, the outdoor industry is “very well-equipped” to wield political power and “could drive the kinds of change required,” according to Schendler.

  • Noting that many GOP-leaning states have winter economies that depend on the survival of snowmobiling and skiing, Schendler added that “snow is currency in this business.”
  • “When it snows, the winter economies make more money, people book tickets, they book hotels,” Schendler said. “Large chunks of America have economies based around coldness.”  

To learn more details about the unique nature of the Rocky Mountain snowpack — and the consequences of its unpredictability — please click here for the full story.

Follow-up Friday

In which we revisit some of the issues we’ve covered this week.  

Supreme Court to weigh in on Navajo rights to Colorado River

Climate change could be twice as deadly as cancer in some places: UN

  • We’ve covered various issues related to next week’s U.N. Climate Change Conference (COP27). In the lead up to the summit, the U.N. Development Program warned that climate change could be up to twice as deadly as cancer in parts of the world. The agency, along with the multi-university Climate Impact Lab, presented these findings while launching the Human Climate Horizons platform on Friday.  

3M agrees to EPA order to treat PFAS contamination in Illinois

  • New lab tests uncovered the presence of “forever chemicals” (PFAS) in a variety of products for pets and young children. In other PFAS-related news, the company 3M has agreed to a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency order on Thursday to address pollution from PFAS found in water near its Cordova, Ill., facility, the agency reported. 

Please visit The Hill’s Sustainability section online and check out other newsletters here. We’ll see you on Monday!

Tags Antony Blinken Colorado River G7 Kyiv Rocky Mountains Russian missile attack ukraine crisis ukraine war Vitali Klitschko Volodymyr Zelensky water resources
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