International Renaissance Foundation Studies Coverage of Environmental Matters in Ukrainian Media

ON THE PICTURE: Strong fire and smoke, grass and reeds in flames.Black smoke.

The full-scale invasion of the russian federation into Ukraine has dramatically changed our Ukrainian reality: our political life, daily routine and information environment. The news from the battle field have filled and defined our media scene. However, after the first shock had faded, we realised that the war raised and sometimes even made us look at the pre-war themes and issues from the new angle. One of them is environmental problems.

We have decided to see how the environmental matters are covered by the Ukrainian media scene during the full-scale war. In pursuance of the Environmental Policy and Advocacy Initiative for Ukraine (EPAIU), which is implemented by the Renaissance Foundation with the financial support by Sweden, we have conducted the media monitoring study of coverage of the environmental matters at the Ukrainian media scene. 

We have focused on the period from 24 February until 4 April, the first forty days after the war had started. Although it is rather a coincidence, that period actually coincided with the so called “first phase” of the intensification of the war between russia and Ukraine in 2022, the phase when the aggressor intended to quickly conquer and control the entire country, the so called blitzkrieg. 

The general theme “The Environment and the War” resulted from the broad search where the data to be analysed were formed from all the news items that mentioned the war, hostilities and the environment at the same time. The sources for nine other themes were formed based on the clear matches in the key categories:

  • Climate Changes
  • Green Energy
  • Radiation Hazard
  • Radioactive Pollution
  • Air Pollution
  • Water Pollution
  • Chemical Pollution
  • Forest Fires
  • Starting Grass Fires

The purpose of the media monitoring was to trace how the Ukrainian media and therefore the Ukrainian politicians, the civil society, ordinary citizens responded to the environmental situation changing as a result of the russian invasion. We also considered the themes traditional for the national environmental protection discourse and tried to detect how its media coverage had changed during that dramatic period.

In addition to analysis of the Ukrainian media, we studied peculiarities of the Ukrainians’ interest in environmental issues based on Google search, by means of Google trends. The longer observation period was selected: from the beginning of the year until the end of April. It enabled to see the dynamics of the Ukrainians’ interest in the environmental issues in the broader context, to compare the war-time data with the preceding period. 

In the end, we analysed how the environmental protection theme was mentioned in the speeches of President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy. His public speeches in the foreign parliaments, interviews by the global mass media, daily addresses to the citizens of his country and various assemblies abroad became the authentic voice of Ukraine, which is fighting for its freedom and freedom of the entire democratic world. Environmental issues were also considered in that versatile communication.

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