The European Commission on Friday, June 3rd, formally adopted a sixth package of sanctions that looks to implement a partial embargo on Russian fossil fuels coming into the European Union in an effort to cut off financing for Russia’s war on Ukraine.
The proposed embargo would see 90% of oil imports into the EU phased out within six months, and other oil products such as petrol phased out by the end of 2022. The agreement, which excludes Hungary, Czech Republic and Slovakia, comes after the release of the REpowerEU Energy Strategy which recklessly calls for replacing Russian oil through the expansion of gas infrastructure in Asia and Africa.
In the meantime, a Guardian investigation has revealed a dozen of the world’s largest fossil fuel firms have as many as 195 ‘carbon bombs’ in the pipeline – oil and gas projects that would each result in at least a billion tonnes of carbon emissions over their lifetimes, shattering global efforts to keep warming within 1.5 degrees celsius. The investigation shows that these companies are set to spend $103 million per day until 2030.
Attempting to decrease dependency on fossil fuels and divest from economic relationships that contribute to the maintenance of Russia’s war in Ukraine, while not only expanding fossil fuel production in the Global South but failing to develop concrete plans to finance renewable energy sources or reduce energy consumption at home is completely self-defeating.
The United States has also announced they will increase production of natural gas in order to help allies replace Russian fossil fuels, acting as a short-term solution to a systemic problem.
We should be wary of these supposed ‘short term’ practices, as they will require the opening up of public land for exploration and development that, once opened, will be a hard fight to win back. Furthermore, gas infrastructure built now as a band aid solution will take years to complete and likely be left as stranded assets once the present energy crisis subsides.
As long as countries are dependent on fossil fuels, the conditions for conflict exist, and the climate crisis will worsen. The fossil fuel industry has, for too long, retained a level of power over societies and economies that have unjustly and disproportionately affected those in the Global South, and those least responsible for both climate change and fuel-driven conflicts.
As well as an embargo on Russian oil we need leaders in European countries to make bold commitments to transition their own economies away from fossil fuel reliance and accelerate the development of renewable energy systems in the Global South through climate finance. Such a transition would see countries fulfill their own energy security needs and weaken the strength of dictators and autocrats around the world who fuel their power with fossil fuels.
This is the time to end the era of fossil fuel dependency all together, for the sake of peace and the climate.