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Fossil fuels and conflict

A year after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, campaigners warn a global fossil fuels bonanza ‘could spark conflicts elsewhere’
Katie Hill - Editor-in-Chief, My Green Pod
Barricades at Euromaidan in Kiev.

On the anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Greenpeace campaigners in the US and offices around the world are warning of the rapid expansion of fossil fuel projects and multiple conflicts that could follow as a result.

The past year has seen nations worldwide united in condemning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and attempted illegal annexations.

It has also seen Big Oil make record profits of almost $200 billion as a result of the war and governments doubling their spending on fossil fuel subsidies while approving new oil and gas projects.

These include so-called carbon bombs, projects that could pump at least 1bn tonnes of CO2 emissions over their lifetime, which – if unstopped – would drag the world beyond the 1.5°C heating target and are bound to ignite new conflicts as warned in a report by the US Intelligence Council.

‘Last year’s gas bonanza is threatening us with geopolitical instability. Mexico’s new planned pipeline will not simply import US gas, but it will deliver a blow to Latin American sovereignty, granting foreign oil and gas companies a foothold in our affairs, it will also imply that Mexico will assemble Permian LNG exports, absorbing environmental and social liabilities.’

Executive director at Greenpeace Mexico

‘Reckless expansion’ of oil and gas

In 2022, the US exported more fossil gas to the EU than ever before. In 2023, the US is projected to export more fossil gas than any other country due to production in the Permian Basin — North America’s largest carbon bomb located in Texas and New Mexico.

Rapidly greenlighting fossil gas infrastructure in the US and around the globe will have dire long-term consequences for climate and health, locking us into decades of emissions that are all but guaranteed to push the world well past climate-safe thresholds. 

‘The answer to transitioning off of Russian oil and gas is not to outsource pain and suffering to another country but to accelerate the transition to renewable energy and rehabilitate off poisonous fossil fuels. Governments around the world cannot continue to look the other way as fossil fuel CEOs sacrifice frontline communities like those in Louisiana and Texas.

‘The reckless expansion of oil and gas expansion in the Permian Basin and Gulf South stands to overshadow any environmental progress made by the Biden administration to date. The stunning amount of new LNG export deals being made underscores the climate hypocrisy of the Biden era. We cannot meaningfully address the climate crisis while simultaneously sanctioning limitless production and export of oil and gas.’

Senior climate campaigner at Greenpeace USA

Perpetuating conflict and injustice

Beyond the European Union, where Permian Basin imports are detrimental for climate targets, planned gas exports include Mexico, as well as East Asia. 

Other carbon bombs that are being tapped following last year’s assault on Kyiv include Australia’s Woodside gas fields in the Burrup Hub project, which poses multiple risks to marine ecosystems, including UNESCO-listed marine parks and endangered whale and turtle habitats, with imports planned as far as Germany. 

In the Democratic Republic of Congo, in the relentless expansion of the fossil fuel industry and only two months after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the government had launched a massive auction of 30 oil and gas blocks, overlapping Indigenous lands and peatlands, threatening the release of at least 3 billion tonnes of carbon – more than the entire annual emissions of European Union countries.

‘The expansion of the fossil fuel industry is a perpetuation of conflict and injustice elsewhere. Oil and gas extraction has a lasting legacy of violence and destruction, from the Sudanese Civil War, the killings of Indigenous communities in Nigeria’s Ogoniland to contemporary conflicts such as in Mozambique. Clearly, neo-colonial models of extracting fossil fuels at any cost have to come to an end.’

Programme director at Greenpeace Africa

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