‘We have to stop being indifferent’

Ukrainian activists lead global demand to end fossil fuel addiction feeding Putin’s war machine

Katie Hill - Editor-in-Chief, My Green Pod

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Published: 6 March 2022

This Article was Written by: Katie Hill - My Green Pod

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Hundreds of organisations have expressed solidarity with the Ukrainian people in a collective demand that governments end fossil fuel production once and for all.

The current crisis sees Putin weaponising oil and gas money to threaten livelihoods and fuel terror with escalating violence, underscoring the fossil fuel system’s role in driving conflict. 

Powering a war machine

This war is a fight for Ukrainians’ own freedom – but. more broadly, a fight for self-determination worldwide.

The letter, initiated by a dozen Ukrainian climate organisations, recognises that this war is a ‘grave violation of human rights, international law and global peace’ fuelled by the oil and gas money that powers Putin’s war machine.

40% of Russia’s federal budget comes from oil and gas, which also make up 60% of Russia’s exports.

The signatories urge governments to ‘use all nonviolent means necessary to stop Putin and his war machine, restore peace, and end this egregious murderous aggression’.

‘I hope the world gets our message loud and clear – there has never been a better time to phase out fossil fuels and stop buying coal, oil and gas from Russia. Ukrainian civil society is urging all investing countries and businesses to open their eyes. The coal, oil and gas money are what is fuelling this war right now. Take your shares out of the Russian fossil fuel business and plan to urgently increase the speed of just transition to renewables.’

OLHA BOIKO
Coordinator of CAN EECCA

A just transition

Governments must work together to manage transition to a clean and safe renewable energy in a way that is fast and fair.
 
This also means stopping ‘all trade and end investment in Gazprom, Rosneft, Transneft, Surgutneftegas, LukOil, Russian Coal and others’, seeing a cease to all financial services for Russian energy companies operating in the coal, oil and gas sectors.

‘This horrific war in Ukraine that sees people dying every day is the result of governments and oil giants having blindly tolerated Russian acts of violence and oppression for many years to maintain the status quo of the fossil fuel economy. We call upon all governments, companies and financial institutions to divest, end all trade and embargo all fossil fuels from Russia. We call for justice and peace. We call to overcome this. We want no more wars. Nations worldwide must commit to the rapid and just transition away from all fossil fuels. Fossil fuel companies cannot be allowed to make their ‘peace washing’ to justify extensive fossil fuel exploration.’

SVITLANA ROMANKO
Ukraine-based climate activist and strategist

The signatories highlight that it is imperative that the world not simply replace Russian-produced fossil fuels (in particular fossil gas) with fossil fuels such as liquefied natural gas from other countries, and demand that fossil fuel expansion must be immediately halted.

Nations worldwide must commit to the rapid and just transition away from all fossil fuels. 

‘We have to stop being indifferent. We should end using gas, oil and coal. We should not break international laws and hold those who break them accountable.’

ROMAN SHAKHMATENKO
Ukrainian Deputy Minister of Environmental Protection

A ‘dead end’ for our planet

This demand to end global fossil fuel dependence comes as the UN secretary-general responds to this week’s IPCC report saying ‘fossil fuels are a dead end – for our planet, for humanity, and yes, for economies’.

The report is a dire reality check that the world is hitting the limits of climate change adaptation so the need for rapid emissions reduction is clear. 

Phasing out fossil fuels, which are responsible for 86% of CO2 emissions in the past decade alone, should be a priority for all governments who are now faced with a dual crisis of climate and security.

However, there is currently no international mechanism to specifically address fossil fuel production and for governments to negotiate transition pathways — which is why many of the signatories of this letter have also called for a global Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty, and support the Beyond Oil and Gas Alliance.

‘We have been warning our western partners – governments, companies and experts – of Russian energy being used as a weapon and on the risks of high dependence on Russian supplies. Now there is more understanding that revenues from Russian oil and gas exports were used mainly for enrichment of elites loyal to Putin’s regime and extensive military buildup. Regretfully, this awareness in the west comes at a dreadful cost of Ukrainian lives. That is why it is so important to force the aggressor to stop the war – with suspension of fossil fuel purchase from Russia being one of the strongest measures.’

ROMAN NITSOVYCH
Research Director, DiXi Group, Ukraine

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