By Ruth Tene Natsa, Abuja
Today Ukrainian organisation Razom We Stand, supported by 55 organisations from Ukraine, the USA, Canada, Australia, Africa and Europe, addressed G20 leaders of the largest economies of the world in an open letter
The letter urges an end to addiction to Russian fossil fuels and provision of adequate responses both to the war of aggression and the climate emergency also revealing that G20 countries have paid Russia over 318 billion USD for purchasing Russian fossil fuels since the start of the invasion of Ukraine. NGOs expressed outrage at continuing support from many G20 countries for Russia and its fossil fuel industry, stating in an open letter to G20 leaders.
“Today, we find it inconceivable that a representative of the Russian criminal regime is allowed to participate in the G20 Summit, while Russia’s dictator Vladimir Putin has been indicted by the International Criminal Court for war crimes in Ukraine. The invasion of Ukraine by Russian Federation forces under the direction of Vladimir Putin is a clear war against Ukrainian sovereignty and independence, as well as a grave violation of human rights, international law, and global peace.
This invasion confronts the world with the spectre of a grimmer future, where both natural and social systems could collapse and violence become the dominant force. It is equally clear that Putin’s war machine has been funded, fed, and fuelled by the fossil fuel industry that is driving both the invasion of Ukraine and the climate crisis that threatens humanity’s future”, – reads the open letter.
The NGO’s address to G20 leaders details how Russia was able to build up a war economy using fossil fuel export revenues and highlights that addiction to Russian oil and gas is driving the invasion of Ukraine as well as the climate crisis, which threatens global economies and humanity’s future.
Since launching its full-scale war of aggression against Ukraine on 24 February 2022, Russia has amassed more than 445 billion US dollars in revenue from fossil-fuel exports, with much of that coming from G20 nations. According to the Center for Research on Energy and Clean Air (CREA), total exports of Russian fossil fuels to G20 & EU countries from 24 February 2022 until the 1st September 2023 are estimated at 318 billion USD (EUR 297 bln).
Exports of Russian crude oil and oil products to India alone from the start of the invasion until the 1st of September 2023 are estimated at 54 bln USD (EUR 50 bln).
These colossal flows of money have made it possible for Russia to put its economy on a war footing and increase the production of weapons used in the brutal war against Ukraine while also incentivising further expansion of fossil fuel infrastructure in Russia.
Ukrainian Svitlana Romanko, Director of the Ukrainian organization Razom We Stand, stated that“An adequate response to the climate emergency, the crisis of international security and the rule of law would require G20 leaders to address the root causes of it -fossil fuels – by taking bold measures to fully and permanently sanction the Russian fossil fuel industry, which is funding war and destruction of the environment and the climate on a planetary scale.
Russian oil and gas should be locked in the ground for us to have any chance of saving lives in Ukraine and beyond its borders and of keeping global warming within the Paris Agreement limits. This is the truth that G20 leaders have to reconcile and act aligned with.”
Coordinator of projects of the NGO “Ecoclub” and coordinator of the “Energy Transition” CoalitionNatalia Lytvyn, said: “Purchasing Russian energy resources at high prices contributes massively to the financing of war. International sanctions are still not enough, and constant monitoring of their compliance is necessary. Last year, Russia was the world’s fourth gas exporter. Even though restrictions are increasing, many countries are still ready to buy fossil fuels from Russia. This is one of the key reasons why Russia’s brutal war grinds on with terrible cost to people and the environment not only in Ukraine but globally.”
Coordinator of the Ukrainian Climate NetworkOlha Boiko, said “The climate movement has been saying it for decades – our reliance on fossil fuels is destroying the Earth, leads to conflicts and undermines human rights. Yet it seems to be not enough in order for the G20 countries to start choosing a different way. It is already hard to keep up with all the natural disasters around the world, and it is not going to get any easier. This means that we need to become more prepared to tackle the next disasters, pandemics and conflicts. We can only do it by implementing energy efficiency and building decentralised renewable energy grids. We can only do it by giving more power to civil society, supporting democratic institutions and showing countries like Russia that they cannot get away with destroying our planet and people’s lives. We should start taking our future seriously.”
NGOs strive to raise awareness among G20 leaders on how ties of their economies to the Russian fossil fuel industry contribute to the massive suffering of people in Ukraine that occurs on a daily basis.
The letter to G20 leaders states further “We call on all leaders of goodwill to end fossil fuel addiction once and for all. We call on G20 heads of state to take immediate action to phase out imports of fossil fuels from Russia and exit from any joint ventures in oil and gas with Russian companies.”
NGOs also demand to exclude Russia from the G20 Summit and other international forums:
“There should be no place for Vladimir Putin or representatives of his regime at the G20 Summit or any other dignified international gathering.”