Ahead of the G7 meeting Ukrainian activists join the global demands to end addiction to fossil fuels

Today, after the four months of devastating war of aggression unleashed by Russia on Ukraine, Europe and the world must finally grasp the dire consequences of fossil fuel extraction and use, its political, economic and security implications, and the price societies, economies and ecosystems pay for the Global North’s addiction to coal, oil and gas.

Despite the alleged commitment to cut the flow of fossil fuel money which feeds Putin’s war in Ukraine, the oil embargo has not been fully introduced, UK and Japan continue to buy Russian oil, and an embargo on Russian gas still does not exist.

Lack of action by the G7 nations to systematically address the overdependence of their economies on Russian oil and gas is tilting the world towards a catastrophe. It’s dismal that the US, UK and EU, paralyzed with  the fear of rising oil prices, are backtracking on the complete oil embargo against Russia and not introducing secondary sanctions against businesses involved in supply of Russian oil and its products to world markets, not to mention that there’s no embargo on Russian gas in sight.

Instead of attempts to water down the oil embargo the US, UK and EU governments should prioritize demand-side action to reduce consumption of oil – following IEA recommendations. Nothing even close to the IEA list of actions has been taken by the G7 governments so far, on the contrary – they’ve expanded fossil fuel subsidies. Japan has raised its gasoline subsidy to record high in April, promoting consumption of oil, instead of limiting it.

IEA’s 10-Point Plan to Cut Oil Use would lower global oil demand by 2.7 million barrels a day within four months. But one month was already wasted by governments, who do little to nothing to curb the addiction of their economies to fossil fuels.

At the same time, the OPEC cartel is expecting world oil consumption to exceed pre-pandemic levels in the second half of 2022 and continue to grow in 2023. If the world goes down this trajectory, Saudi Arabia and other OPEC countries will get record profits, their authoritarian regimes will grow stronger and become more aggressive, driving more instability, more conflict and displacement, and more refugees and human suffering. Most dangerously, if oil production expands with global energy companies and banks overriding the embargo on Russian oil, the Paris Agreement 1.5C climate goal will be written off and the world will descend into climate catastrophe.

The call for international solidarity to rise against tyranny of fossil fuels is urgent as never before. Today because of the accelerated onset of deadly effects of fossil fuel addiction, we face the threat of unimaginable destruction not only in Ukraine but globally. With growing demand for fossil fuels and record prices, Putin has vast financial resources to wage war of destruction in Ukraine and can threaten to attack other countries.

The threat of escalation to a global war can be diverted if Gazprom, Rosneft, other oil and gas companies that actively cooperate with Putin’s regime, are deprived of all financial resources and access to world markets. This requires the full package of secondary sanctions, including on trading and insurance, to be enacted by the G7 countries immediately.  This will not only guarantee peace, but also enable countries to achieve carbon neutrality faster and solve the climate crisis before it becomes unmanageable.

There are worrying signs of the G7, mainly Germany and Japan, watering down the recent ministerial commitment to end international public finance for fossil fuels by the end of 2022 in the name of energy security. However, adding loopholes that allow new investments in gas would undermine rather than support energy security objectives. This would bring financial stability and stranded assets risks, while renewable energy and efficiency solutions can be deployed faster and better serve development and energy access needs  The G7 must not water down the commitment to end fossil fuel finance and it must not be another empty promise.

In this time of existential crisis, the G7 leaders must commit their political and economic powers into curbing global fossil fuel usage and bending the climate change trajectory. It may be our last chance to get on the path of rapid decarbonization and keep the 1.5 degree climate target alive. This requires ambition and coordinated action to push the world past peak oil and gas demand.

Today we need an international public response against Putin’s regime at the global scale, which can only be paralleled with the response and measures taken against apartheid regime of South Africa in late 1980s. We need the G7 countries to show leadership by exiting all fossil fuel infrastructure projects and prevent its expansion. G7 nations must stop funneling billions into aggravating the addiction to fossil fuels and escalation of the climate crisis and take all necessary steps to accelerate renewable energy transition for all.

“Companies who invested in Russian fossil infrastructure must face the fact that all these investments are now effectively stranded. Loss of fossil fuel profits is a merely sufficient punishment for what should be considered as collaboration with Putin’s genocidal regime. A consistent approach to secondary sanctions and a strong policy response from G7 countries is necessary to make much of Russian fossil fuel reserves permanently unrecoverable and unburnable, effectively dealing a huge blow to the climate crisis. Leaders of the G7 must act now!” – said Kostiantyn Krynytskyi, head of energy department, NGO Ecoaction.

“While we are trying to address the G7 leaders with an urge to immediately enforce an embargo on Russian gas and impose strict secondary sanctions, people continue dying in my country, half destroyed by the war. This is urgent and necessary to make sure that Russian gas and oil reserves become permanently unrecoverable, stranded and cannot fuel more wars. G7 leaders, we call on you to speed up the investments into renewable energy, stop funding fossil fuel expansion and finally put public money where it needs to be – in a peaceful, prosperous and clean energy future for all”, said Svitlana Romanko, Stand With Ukraine coordinator.

“How can you call yourself a leader of democracy and freedom, if you are friends with dictators and keep financing their deadly fossil fuels? The fact that the European Union, since the outbreak of the full-scale war in Ukraine, keeps sending nearly a billion euros every single day to putin for his gas, oil, coal and other fuels is a complete absurdity. And the fact that now some of the leaders are turning towards further fossil fuel expansion in other regions, like Africa, is a signal that they cannot imagine a world beyond the life-threatening fossil fuel system and prefer holding tight to the exploitative business-as-usual, rather than securing people’s lives”, said Dominika Lasota, a climate justice & anti-war activist from Poland, Fridays For Future movement.

For years youth have been demanding Climate Action – now we also have to stand for Peace. Leaders need to address the Climate Crisis as it is – today we have a Climate War in Europe.    People need energy to cook their food, energy to live their life – and Leaders need to stop selling them dictator-owned energy, stop making people financing wars as in my country Ukraine.  Even students like me understand this truth, leaders can no longer hide it – the only option is to Act Now and switch to Peaceful and Climate Friendly energy for Peace and for Climate Action”, highlighted Ilyess El Kortbi, climate justice activist and speaker with Fridays For Future from Ukraine.

“Germany has caused so much suffering in the 20st century, now it could be a true warrior of justice and climate action in the 21st century. The climate movement in Germany has brought historic numbers of people to the streets, the majority for real climate action is there. We demand our Chancelor Olaf Scholz stick to his promises of a real Zeitenwende. The G7 must be a moment of uprising, of commitment, of a start into a fossil free and peaceful future”, said Luisa Neubauer, climate justice activist, co-organizer of Fridays For Future Germany.

“Fossil fuels are not only the greatest threat to our climate, but also undermine peace and security globally. Yet there is currently no international plan or mechanism to manage a just transition away from coal, oil and gas. It is crystal clear: G7 leaders must work together in the spirit of international cooperation to not only end the expansion of fossil fuels, but begin a fast and fair wind down of existing production. The future of Ukraine and humanity depends on  ending our fossil fuels addiction”, said Michael Poland, Campaign Director for the Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty Initiative.

“The war in Ukraine has revealed in a brutal way how deadly is the fossil fuel addiction of the Global North in general and the European Union in particular. We must acknowledge this unique historical moment in space and time. G7 nations are obliged to do justice to their global responsibility through intensive efforts to end the fossil fuel addiction all together. The business-as-usual party is over in Disneyland and we need to get sober once and for all before it’s too late”, said Andy Gheorghiu, longtime campaigner and consultant for climate/environmental protection, energy policy and further development of democratic processes.

“If the G7 adds loopholes to allow public finance for gas this would denote an enormous waste of public money and a huge missed opportunity to shift this money to real solutions. It is critical that governments stop Russian fossil fuel imports, but new gas investments are not needed to replace Russian supply and will not help achieve energy security. Renewable energy and efficiency solutions can be deployed faster, better serve development and energy access needs and do not come with the stranded assets and financial stability risks of fossil gas. The G7 looking for loopholes is a bad look for Germany and risks derailing parallel commitments to shift public money out of fossil fuels and into clean energy. We cannot afford any backsliding. To save lives, countries need to stand firm in their commitments and follow through with integrity”, said Laurie van der Burg, co-Lead Global Public Finance Campaign at Oil Change International.

“G7 leaders have to start prioritizing Humanity and invest in Loss and Damages. Africa is no replacement for Russian Gas and the same leaders who have benefited from colonialism and today Neo Colonialism have the moral obligation to listen to the science, to indigenous leaders and make history right. The racist structures that G7 leaders follow to this day have to crumble for the sake of Humanity! No new fossil fuel projects anywhere, accountability and loss and damage”, said Ina-Maria Shikongo, Namibian Climate justice activist.

“Despite the suffering, despite the bloodshed, despite warm words about recognising the climate emergency, the EU alone has paid over €60 billion to the Russian state to import fossil fuels in the months since the start of the invasion. We need urgent action to bring in an immediate sanctions package to cover all fossil fuels produced by Russia and secondary sanctions against those companies still profiting from their engagement with Putin. Anything less is a dereliction of duty to brave Ukrainians fighting for their sovereignty and to all of us who want to see future generations survive and thrive on our planet”, said Mike Davis, CEO of Global Witness.

“After four months of the full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine, it is more than evident for Europe and the whole world that no agreements with Russia are possible, especially on the fossil fuels issue. Russia uses gas, oil, and coal as sources of finance for continuous wars and as means of pressure on countries depending on their import. Turning down the gas screw for Europe, requirements for payments for gas in rubles are the instruments of Russian blackmail. We call on G7 leaders to stop funding Russian fossil fuel development and force energy transition. We need a firm and precise decision to ban all imports of Russian fossils”, said executive director of NGO Ecoсlub Andriy Martynyuk.

“The dependency on fossil gas was a deliberate choice, built over time against countless pleas and warnings. The suffering of the Ukrainian people was the cost of this dependency, not to mention the climate damage wrought by Russian fossil fuels. Let this be the final warning. Ditch fossil fuels now or know that more suffering is in store, whether through petsostate dictators or climate impacts. G7 should stop trying to use other parts of the world as crutches to extend their fossil fuel addiction, and resolve to build a future based on justice, with energy systems that are accessible and fueled by renewable and sustainable sources that include everyone,” said Mahir Ilgaz, Associate Director Global Policy and Campaigns at 350.org.

“Global leaders need to wake up. We’ve seen that the whims of the fossil fuel industry are driving a humanitarian and climate crisis, especially in Ukraine. Carbon neutrality is the only way to protect our planet and our communities. As countries with the most ties with Russian fossil fuels, G7 nations must urgently pull out of fossil fuels immediately and lead the charge to push other major fossil fuel financiers, including China and South Korea, to transition away from fossil fuels toward a clean and just energy future,” said Joojin Kim, the managing director of Seoul-based Solutions for Our Climate.