This second episode in our two-part series on Putin’s war on Ukraine and oil and gas tackles three big issues. First, it looks at the relationship between revenues from fossil fuel exports and Russia’s attack on Ukraine; second, the challenges and pay-offs of divestment from and embargoes of Russian oil and gas, and third, what possibilities for a future beyond fossil fuels the situation opens up. How might we set up an energy system that allows us to condemn war and incursions on sovereignty and promotes peace?
Russia’s economy depends heavily on oil and gas revenues, and activists and scholars have made the case that Russian President Putin’s war on Ukraine is a fossil-fueled war. In the first 100 days, Russian fossil fuel exports earned Russia 93 billion US dollars. Indeed, various countries, particularly in Europe, have become heavily dependent on Russian exports of fossil fuels. In 2021, Russia supplied 40% of Europe’s gas and a quarter of Europe’s oil needs. Russia also exported heavily to China.
In this context, various countries including European Union member states have been scrambling to find alternative sources to disentangle themselves from the Russian economy and ramp up sanctions against Russia. However, action has been uneven and slow. The United States, Britain, Australia and Canada have enacted an embargo of Russian oil and gas, and the EU has put in place a plan to phase out 90% of Russian oil imports by the end of 2022. Meanwhile, China and India are taking advantage of low prices for Russian oil and gas to increase imports from Russia. Oil and gas prices elsewhere have soared due to a mix of price-gouging by carbon majors, the war in Ukraine and lasting COVID impacts, with consequences across the world. For example, while oil-producing African nations like Nigeria might be able to profit from high oil prices, the local population cannot afford to buy the oil that they themselves produce. It also remains to be seen whether the countries that have put embargoes in place will speed up their transition to renewable energy instead of simply look for fossil fuels elsewhere.
In this shifting context, this second episode in our two-part series on Putin’s war on Ukraine and oil and gas tackles three big issues. First, it looks at the relationship between revenues from fossil fuel exports and Russia’s attack on Ukraine; second, the challenges and pay-offs of divestment from and embargoes of Russian oil and gas, and third, what possibilities for a future beyond fossil fuels the situation opens up. How might we set up an energy system that allows us to condemn war and incursions on sovereignty and promotes peace?
In this episode we’ll be speaking to Svitlana Romanko, a leading Ukrainian climate campaigner, environmental lawyer and spokesperson for Stand With Ukraine. As part of this coalition, she has been advocating for a full ban on Russian fossil fuels and a larger fossil fuel phaseout as a way to undermine Russia’s expansion attempts, to eliminate oil-driven war and to stop climate change.
Stand With Ukraine: https://www.with-ukraine.org/
Svitlana Romanko’s and Bill McKibben’s op-ed calling for financial institutions to divest from fossil fuels: https://www.latimes.com/opinion/story/2022-03-09/ukraine-war-russia-oil-gas-banks-climate-change
Top 100 financial institutions providing finance for the fossil fuel industry in Russia: https://putin100.org/
Glasgow Alliance for Net Zero: https://www.gfanzero.com/
Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty: https://fossilfueltreaty.org/
Total’s continued operations in Russia: https://www.reuters.com/business/energy/russia-avoids-energy-sanctions-oil-majors-flee-totalenergies-stays-2022-03-05/
Marie-Sol R: In this episode, we’ll be speaking to Svitlana Romanko, a leading Ukrainian climate campaigner, environmental lawyer and spokesperson for Stand With Ukraine. As part of this coalition, she has been advocating for a full ban on Russian fossil fuels and a larger fossil fuel phase out as a way to undermine Russia’s expansion attempts, and to eliminate oil-driven war and to stop climate change. Welcome to our podcast. It’s really nice to have you here.
Svitlana R: Thank you so much for having me here and inviting me to speak.
Marie-Sol R: To start off our conversation today. I’m curious to hear a little bit more about your work. As I just mentioned, you’re part of the stand with Ukraine coalition. But you’ve also written for instance, op-eds, where you called on banks to divest from fossil fuels at large, but also to end, of course, the war in Ukraine, and to fight climate change. So I’m wondering if you could tell us a little bit more about these campaigns and call outs and what is really behind them?
Svitlana R: Yes, sure, I will be happy to share on behalf of all 45 Ukrainian organizations and networks who initiated this call. In early March we started thinking about what to do about Russian fossil fuels, and this fossil fueled war, since it was just starting. The very next day when the war started, because we’ve been very clear that this war, similarly to climate crisis, to energy crisis, has the same roots of fossil fuels. And we are involved with over 800 organizations from over 60 countries in the coalition who supported our call to action. And we started massive campaigning against, first of all, as a priority against the Russian fossil fuels in European countries and beyond the European countries mainly targeting the main importance of Russian oil, gas and coal, just to make them to ban all fossil fuels that they import from Russia so far, just to stop Putin’s war machine and Russia’s aggression against Ukraine. And we also targeted some countries that are not in the EU, but also are the largest importers of Russian oil and gas mostly, and coal specifically. And we drafted many letters signed in agreement with many members of the coalition, for example, as a letter to the Bundestag, to [the] German parliament because Germany has main dependency based mostly on Russian gas and for the industries that needs Russian gas, as Germany says to us. And also we had a letter to Chinese government when China was supposed – some three state national companies of China were supposed to consider buying Russian assets, then, that has been divested and sold by other entities by other parties. But after this letter led by Asian partners, they didn’t buy these assets, which we consider also a win, and many, many more actions and the current, the latest, I can name a few. First of all, this is 100 days of Russian aggression against Ukraine. This statement is being published and also supported by a wide range of international international organizations. We are calling for more strict sanctions on Russian oil and gas, including the countries that continue importing Russian oil and gas and coal. And also we are calling for secondary sanctions and for a rapid transition to renewable and clean energy everywhere, which of course, may be only done with immediate phasing out of fossil fuels and ban all new oil, gas and coal fields as well. What we also demanded so far – we demand that banks especially putting 100 big financial institutions who still maintain the assets in the Russian fossil fuel industry and infrastructure, we just demanded divest from Russian fossil fuels and dry out the fossil fuel money that feed Putin’s war machine as well. Some of these attempts were successful, but we also we are putting a lot of pressure on the banks since the war started, and right now and some pension funds; pension funds, for example in Denmark, and some banks across Europe as Credit Agricole, started to cut the financing, and just consider this very toxic to fund the Russian fossil fuel industry. And the latest release today, we released the letter to Glasgow financial alliance, Net Zero, with the demand for them just to develop concrete timetables, investment plans, which will enable 4 trillion US dollars annually for renewable energy transition. And we just shared this letter among our networks, and widely and just start targeting Mr. Bloomberg and Mr. Carney from Finance Alliance, because we are very mindful that the fossil fuel industry is quite profitable, and they won’t end profiting on people. And on the wars and conflicts anytime soon, by themselves, we have to make enough pressure on them and on those financial institutions on their behind and just cut all financial flows to Russia, primarily because Russia is just horrific aggressor, the devastating impacts on my country. We cannot, we just tried actually to describe in numbers, but also to all other countries and regions, regions to restore peace, and enable the Clean Energy Transition everywhere.
Marie-Sol R: Yeah, thank you so much, Svitlana, to provide a first overview of your work. I think it’s really impressive. And I think yeah, in just a minute, we will also want to take a bit more time to delve more into the details of a potential of embargo, etc. But I think, helpful for our discussion is first maybe to unpack a little bit more like to what extent fossil fuels are really funding Putin’s war in the Ukraine and how, yeah, divesting from fossil fuels might aid ending the war. Could you delve into that a little bit more?
Svitlana R: Yes, of course, for now, Putin and Russia earn about 1 billion a day from gas. They sell to Europe especially. And they spent 900 million a day attempting to bombard my country into submission and oblivion. And it’s been very explicit. It’s that connections between the fossil fuel companies and also just fossil fuel interests, interested financial institutions are so proven and so obvious. And we do – have this data, who maintains what assets are in Russia and fossil fuels, from major banks from Wall Street institutions, and they are available at Putin100.org. So, so far, we see that Russian economy is quite weak in terms of the balance what comes to the economy at all of what’s been funded with the economy and 60% of the economy is based on the fossil fuel profits and 40% of sales profit of this percentage Russia is spending on its military build up and in the war in Ukraine every day. As I said it’s such [large] numbers and actually it’s been counted already that the destruction [of] my country is being assessed for 1 trillion US dollars. They have made an approximate number Russia spent on the military buildup, [and] it varies [from] about six- to eight hundred billion US dollars since the war started so we see clearly how weak economies are just enough fed by fossil fuels, propped up dictators who declare wars. So this connection was very clear to us and for what we are doing now we are fighting for different tomorrow free from Putin’s and other petro-dictators and free from climate hostile, and war-feeding fossil fuels. Because at the same time, I can only just add that, of course, spiking prices are not adding on the side of the that this fight is so much easy. But we still believe we can overcome all the difficulties connected and created by the fossil fuel industries. Because actually, since the war started, the banks were very slow in scrambling to find themselves on the right side of the history, they slowly started to divest their funds, or just cut the financial supports and loans for some fossil fuel companies. But this process is still quite slow. And, for example, 30% of sales profit were connected to its activities in Russia, Total is still refusing to stop with activities, and had has hardly committed not to invest in a new project. And just recently, we had two major actions in partnership against Total, it was a mock trial where we found Total guilty by multiple arguments for the war in Ukraine maintaining assets in Russian fossil fuels, and again for destruction in other places, globally, especially in Africa. And we also had a protest in Paris, and before it started, the Total shareholders meeting, and I had the chance to speak that to those shareholders. And I can say that they are hardly moving from just taking off a huge fossil fuel money from bloody industry that they feed. But at the same time, the support of public pressure is massive. And when reputational pressure is massive, there is no other moral commitments [than] to divest from the industry. And in addition to divestment, I would say that, in general, for the last decade divestment from fossil fuel industry enabled 40 trillion of US dollars equivalent being divested from harmful fossil fuel industry. So I truly believe that divestment could play a role in stopping and ending all new oil and gas projects and a phasing out of the old. But yet, so we still need to demand those divestment efforts. Because when you try to move shareholders, it’s one of the ways, but shareholders are just sometimes very hard to move when they see enormous numbers, what they can make on it, people, people suffering across the globe.
Archana R: Thanks Svitlana, I think you explained how oil is fueling Putin’s war, very clearly in terms of Russia’s heavy to sort of not diversified economy, and also the globe, more global implications of that, and made a nice pivot to divestment. So maybe we can start there and then move to the embargo. But I’m curious how exactly you see divestment from fossil fuels as a mechanism to, to stopping this war fighting climate change all the things that we want.
Svitlana R: Yes, this is also – this also has an explicit connection. Because when you divest the money from the fossil fuel industry, you weaken this industry and you disable them to start new projects, in many countries, as it happened partially with EACOP in Africa, if, and this is also happening in some other areas, and even in our even with Russia as one of the largest importers of oil and gas in the world, on the very top of the supply chain, the demand in oil and gas has declined up to 10% as well. So, what we basically would like to do with divestment as a mechanism, first of all current financial flows that enable new fossil fuel production and try to just and try to put some measures in place as for example, the EU taxonomy Delegated Act, which I have to as well put here because it is like a list of green activities that private investors are looking for either to invest or not into some green developments. And when I’ve been visiting the EU parliament for meeting some members of the European Parliament and just to speak with to lobby against gas and nuclear in the EU taxonomy, what’s been very clear to me, that private investors for this moment, they don’t have a feel and demand willpower and demand to keep investment into fossil fuels massively across Europe, they do understand that these activities are not sustainable. If these so called new generation of private investors will follow the initial strategy and will divest into renewable energy clean energy technologies, and we will still be able to defund all the industry and just divert this money that there are in this industry into the new era of clean energy and renewable energy. This is how we may enable the renewable energy transition because according to the IEA report, we still need to triple the investments into renewable energy, because it’s not – these all are money profiting the fossil fuel industry. And in terms of profits, I definitely can say that only in the first few months of the wars, in the first quarter 20 American fossil fuel-based companies just earned additional 30.3 billions of dollars. And European fossil fuel companies continue to earn extra 107 million US dollars per day, just because of the higher prices. And this is actually a moment when we, when we can think it’s also based on report of our partners, just released recently on Monday, CREA reported that actually windfall tax or just some sufficiently high tariffs onto those oil and gas producers may significantly decrease as well demand in oil and gas for now and just provide more energy security for the consumers as well. For us as a movement and as a coalition, it means only that we have to make enough pressure on both sides of the supply chain, on that [side] just trying to cut the oil as I said, just to cut all fossil fuels from Russia and drastically reduce the demand and just push companies – push financial institutions, push governments first to consider this activity morally unacceptable because that’s a big part of who we are and how we assess what is happening even actually towards the war. And war impacts on Ukraine and on all other [parts of the] world – we’ll see that it’s turning into a massive catastrophe. And the fight for Ukrainian freedom actually can lead us to what science has told us we have to do – to stop burning oil, gas and coal. This is a very decisive moment. I truly believe that financial institutions and banks and big bosses somewhere in big, nice rooms and buildings, they do understand. We just need to make more pressure on them and diversities, financial flows into clean energy transitions as we are trying to do with a classical financial alliance for Net Zero letter where we demand them to announce specific financial support for renewable energy before COP 2027.
Archana R: Thanks for spotlighting the role of finance in particular, I think it’s something that we haven’t talked enough about on our podcast in general and how it relates to the oil industry and companies like Shell. But really, you know, the network is bigger, obviously, than just oil companies like you’re showing and the role of banks and other financial institutions in speeding transition and cutting off imports from Russia is is significant. So thank you. And I’m curious now moving to the embargo. You know, the European Union recently passed an oil embargo on Russian imports, saying that they’ll phase out 90% of Russian oil by the end of this year. Different countries have been given different conditions or exemptions because of their heavy dependence on Russian oil, like Hungary like Slovakia and the Czech Republic. And of course, there are many other countries that have also already put in embargoes like Australia, the United States among a number of others. So how effective do you think that these embargoes will be?
Svitlana Romanko: I think that it will be it will be effective. Of course, if, as I said, we will be able to make enough pressure on those who are on the other side of Russia’s – of Russia supply. I mean, those who still – who is still buying and consuming Russian oil and gas. And actually, the latest report of our partners and the coalition members CREA says that for before June, June the third, which marks the 100 days since the war against Ukraine started, Russia earned 93 billion of euros in revenue from fossil fuel exports. And the EU imported 61% of this worth approximately 57 billion euros, even just up to date, up to June the third, which was last week. We had in Stockholm 50 actually big international events that were all political leaders were saying we need – just gradually they said – just phase out fossil fuels, and enable financial and technical support for those countries that are the most affected and the most vulnerable. Here I have to say that just to mention one remark that Ukraine has also just – has obviously become the country the most vulnerable to the impacts of the fossil fueled crisis as well and the fossil fuelled war so I consider Ukraine also to be in this list. But what we see from this data from numbers, the largest importers were Germany with 12.1 billion of euros paid for this all this time to Russia, Italy as well. The Netherlands with a big port is still continuing to just to accept these shipments and Turkey, Poland, France and India and Poland and the United States made the largest dent in Russia’s revenue. Lithuania, Finland and Estonia achieved sharp percentage reductions of more than 50%. And I like what Lithuania political leader said that we were dependent on 90 or 95%, on Russian fossil fuels, but we’ve been able to phase out them completely by April the first. If we could do it, everyone can do this potentially. But we see that the political willpower is still missing from this list. And the EU is simply looking for a moment to replace Russian fossil fuels with non-Russian ones. And this will only accelerate the climate crisis, which is the crisis for all the world’s citizens and Ukrainians included and it will further embolden those who draw their power from fossil fuels, as we know from conflicts in the Middle East, that outrageous war in my country is not the first fossil fueled war. Yes, this is the most horrific. This is most poignant for, just for me in particular. But if we don’t act urgently, it won’t be the last. This what I intended to say with embargo, that countries of Europe especially are very slow towards the embargo decisions. So we just had the second pack – no it was the sixth package with this partial oil embargo. And only just recently as well, it took over two months for the EU to consider and reconsider how they can actually get rid of Russian oil. And what concerns me is that we don’t have this time. By the end of this year, where they actually intend to impose the full embargo on Russian oil. We don’t have this time because we Ukrainians are dying at the very same time. So I do think that the embargo will be effective [if] it will be imposed immediately and in a full scale and if there will be a secondary sanctions on those who are still making trade, insurance services and financial – providing financial services to Russian fossil fuel shipments. And the third is very important for me, because I cannot of course ignore that we are part of a global movement and we understand all the connections with social justice and with the climate justice as well. It’s imperative that the world not simply replace Russian fossil fuel fuels, with fossil fuels from other countries in particular liquified natural gas, and these LNG terminals and new explorations. And fossil fuel expansion must be immediately halted. And nations worldwide must commit to the rapid and just transition away from all fossil fuels. Of course, it’s not going [to be] easy. But what I just I wanted to summarize that the next thing what we would like to do just to campaign for a secondary sanctions because there is, for example, London, big insurance companies that provides 95% of all insurance services for all Russian fossil fuel supply. If you just move this one particular company or sanction this company against just continuing insurance services, we can make a change for India and China, for example, because the ships from Russia are going to India or China extensively, because these are buyers that replace Germany with its leading role buying Russia’s oil. These are as well, just countries that you can hardly campaign in a democratic way, especially in China, we all understand these difficulties. But there are some secondary measures that we can impose that the governments – we can demand and governments can impose on those traders, on those shipment providers, on big service providers or big energy providers. And I believe that all together in solidarity, we will be able just to impose the full embargo, but at the same time just to cut the other side of the tap, which means increased exploration in the countries of the global South, because we stand in the highest and just bold solidarity with those countries, there should not be new oil and gas and coal fields nowhere. Because yes, that was what I intended to say. And very dramatic is also cutting the demand for energy, increased energy savings, energy efficiency, and energy consumption as well across, especially across Europe, is also very important introducing that demand. And just amplification of a clean energy transition, which I believe an embargo will cause and last I’ve just mentioned about this today, but sufficiently high tariffs or windfall taxes on oil and gas importers will also help just to get this decline in prices, because some people in many countries are still facing that crisis and the cost of living. And especially even the effects of the work even felt in Africa. I spoke to my friends, to my friends here, as I said, we feel that everyone on the planet feels this. So just let’s try and end this. Just phase out fossil fuels altogether right now.
Marie-Sol R: Yeah, thank you Svitlana, I think, yeah, I appreciate that you started to broaden the perspective or focus a little bit more on the discussion around the embargoes. Because I think often here, we’re very focused on Europe and what is happening there. But I think what is really interesting to take into consideration is really, what role maybe other big players or actors have in this, and I’m curious to hear a little bit more about, for instance, China. China so far has taken a fairly neutral position in this conflict, it continues to import Russian gas and to do business with Russia. So yeah, I’m wondering what, to what extent the fact that they’re continuing business is also counteracting efforts in Europe to strengthen an embargo. And if you can talk a little bit about that.
Svitlana Romanko: Yes, what I can say that China has become a largest importer of Russian oil and overtook Germany as the largest importer. And China’s imports has been essentially constant while Germany has managed a modest reduction on oil imports from Russia. Of course, there are just – I see different sides of this problem actually. I see a problem when China is a large country, and you can hardly just – due to some democratic restriction – just campaign in China but we also see climate movements propping up in Taiwan against coal which is close to China and in China itself. And I think if we just use appropriately as a secondary sanctions on those traders, and if we weaken Russian fossil fuel supply enough that they won’t be making just additional supply to China, we can get some, of course, we can get some success in decrease consumption. But also China has the largest potential of renewable energy and it can be a global leader of a clean energy, green energy revolution. I’m still very much aware that we are speaking about renewable energy, we should not be creating another monopoly which will threaten the world to say yes after. So that’s why renewable energy, clean energy has to be a community energy distributed energy produced by everyone and accessible and affordable by everyone. Because at least no one can own sun and wind in this proportion. So the point, so I see more just well, we can make a pressure such as trying to push China to become a leader over global energy transition. But at the same time, of course, the extensive industry requires a consumption of oil. That’s why we very much rely on the secondary sanctions and the tariffs for those fossil fuel companies who are still supplying to China and also we are very mindful that that some banks are remaining the top fossil fuel bankers in the world. So they finance Russian state energy giants, like Gazprom and enables those to be the powerful. If you worked over those banks, as for example, JP Morgan Chase, and some other banks on this side, we can drop, we can make them drop Russian companies instead of playing both sides. And actually, they should validate their place in global financial alliance for net zero as well, by setting ambitious and near term targets to reduce their support to the fossil fuel industry globally. So I see that these banks that formed especially Russian banks, that caused also the root cause problem of oil supply, secondary sanctions, but other countries and sanctions that European Union or specifically UK can take and impose on these insurance providers. They just physically parts of supply to – it will be disrupted a bit, yes, but outstanding times require such the same measures and radical measures at the same time. So I truly believe that only trying to cover different areas of impact, we can make an impact itself, and only international solidarity, in demanding the sanctions, both the primary and secondary, and tariffs on the fossil fuel companies and divestment from fossil fuels. And from banks and financial institutions, taking the right side in the history can make a difference in the world. And of course, if you work with the movements in the countries that are specifically, specifically their biggest struggle, the import of Russian oil and gas.
Marie-Sol R: thank you for elaborating on these issues a little bit more. And, yeah, you’ve mentioned it in in one of your responses, but I think I would like to highlight it a bit more. I think one worry, some development that we’ve been see- we’ve seen because of divestment and, sort of the scramble for alternative fossil fuel resources, as alternatives from Russian oil and gas is that European countries have started to explore, particularly alternatives, particularly in the global south in African nations. They’ve been looking into new drillings in oil and gas exploration, for instance, in Mozambique. Like what are – how can we overcome? What are your ideas on how we can overcome these issues? Since it is definitely not, it’s not bringing us closer towards a just energy transition at this point.
Svitlana Romanko: Yes, so how I see – I know very well, because I do have many friends and allies everywhere as I’ve been working for Laudato Si Movement as a global campaign manager as well, against fossil fuels. And I know from my colleagues from across Africa, and also in Latin America and in Asia, where the huge investments are going to flow into coal and other fossil fuel exploration. I know that it’s very hard for them right now. And, of course Russian oil companies were present across Africa as well. And but there are just now more increased demand for gas and oil from the African continent, which puts local communities in huge danger and only adds to the impact that the war in Ukraine is already having on all over the world, and about 2 billion people in 107 countries are affected. And many of these countries are the countries of the global south. So how would I approach it what we are actually trying to do, and what we try to do during Stockholm +50, as well, we try to call for a Fossil Fuel Non Proliferation Treaty, which will make all fossil fuels being kept in the ground, and will enable, which will ban their proliferation. This is one part of the solution, how we can do this politically, just speaking to governments and trying to persuade them to endorse the Fossil Fuel Non Proliferation Treaty, and just to keep all the resources in the ground, but at the same time, what I see critical and what we also have been trying to do as a coalition to make pressure on the EU, because and the countries that increased exploration saying that – they all are actually saying that the war in Ukraine made us do it, to look for increased exploration, but my message to them would be don’t justify your and don’t use this barrage of petro-propaganda as your justification for increased exploration, and for your colonial efforts to just to go to the countries and make a huge disruption and create the conflicts every everywhere in the world. We have to put enough pressure on the EU, EU countries, and especially towards renewable energy, clean energy transition, energy efficiency, and to speak literally to everyone starting from industry, and go into citizens. And just to reduce it to reduce demand from one side. From other side, this is absolutely unacceptable that these projects got funding from financial institutions, and they get support from financial institutions. And as a part of this would be, would be just providing a lot of campaign arguments and campaign actions and protests, and massive civil society pressure to those who are still providing a huge loans, insurance services to colonial efforts of the EU, especially to the European Union, that they are trying to bring into the African continent as well. And at the same time, there is basically, just as far as they know, people on the ground, or also in Nigeria, or in Uganda, or Tanzania, where we have these EACOP problem, big, big exploration problem that threatens many 1000s, 10s of 1000s of families and nature. And all of this, due to pressure all institutions at once, and they will fall down as a dictatorship as well, because they all fall down where there is enough of joint action. And, yes, what we are going to do next is just fully demand the gas embargo, which is the toughest within the European Union. and the EU parliament has already supported the gas embargo. But as we see, there is very slow action from the EU countries. But there is time for them to understand that we cannot, absolutely cannot afford to do business and consume resources as usual. We have the climate crisis and energy security crisis and food crisis. And this is not acceptable that we come back to the colonial times and bring destruction to countries in Algeria and Nigeria and Mozambique and everywhere. Yet I see that we have to move the major financial players, banks, as I said.
Archana R: Yeah, Svitlana, you’ve mentioned a number of different tools to do this, including divestment, the embargo but also I think divestment from the secondary institutions, like the insurance companies as well as the windfall tax, which actually came up in our other episode on Shell and oil and the war in Ukraine. So this is all very interesting, and I think very useful. In terms of dealing with the oil industry’s efforts to look elsewhere like Africa for new sources of oil, I think, we’re suggesting slowly that really, this is an opportunity to shift away from oil and gas and fossil fuels entirely. So I want to talk more about renewables in transition. So what are a few steps that such countries could take to cut support from the war in Ukraine as well as to transition and adjust fashion?
Svitlana R: Yes. Thank you so much. This is a great question which provides us a perspective and at the same time, some optimism that we can end all crises at once, if we only will be just decisive enough and determined enough and just not lose this really important moment when we can do that. The window is open, and how would I suggest we need to, to act of course. Record high fossil fuel prices, and the drive to reduce reliance on Russia’s fossil fuels have prompted increased ambition for clean energy and energy efficiency across Europe, which will effectively lessen the impact of banning inputs from Russia and spreading the most effective national policies is one step across the block and beyond could sustainably increase the impact. So sustainable policies as an example, I do have the Repower EU strategy, which is not bad in general, it foresees a huge reduction in Russian fossil fuels and increase in renewable energy supply from by 45%, I believe, just for the next few years. But at the same time the internal energy strategy of the EU tells us that they are looking just to replace Russian fossil fuel supply from Senegal from some other countries. So they should stop the policies, should not include colonial efforts, just to justify the economic need from major countries in the European Union, especially Germany, for example. Because honestly, these GDP decline will be too little and too easy, manageable, very easy manageable for them, I can say from the position as a Ukrainian because up to the reports, if Germany will just completely ban Russian oil and gas the economic decline based on it will be starting from 0.3. Up to 6% maximum economic decline, which is still very manageable. Ukrainian economic decline as a result of just this fossil fueled war for now is huge. It starts from 35% and expected to grow up to 50%. This is hard to manage, if the same economic declines will appear in the countries of Africa, for example, or some other countries, whereas the EU wants to impose more extraction and more exploration of fossil fuels. So we will need much more global efforts to tackle this crisis along with the climate crisis, we have to phase out fossil fuels. And this should be in a national policies in the EU policies as well. And we need more bold, ambitions towards that. And I said, as I said about the investments into renewable energy, of course, we are still behind on all these investments. And it’s very obvious where all money are, if we just the world – [according] to other reports – has enough renewable energy potential everywhere in all continents and countries. It’s been proven with not with numbers, this is fossil fuel exit strategy, a report that explicitly calls on that, saying the IEA is saying that we can overcome the dependence on fossil fuels. And we can end our addiction to fossil fuels very soon, if it will be in national policies. And also, to the global institutions, to this Finance Alliance. So they have all power to just collate those resources, investment resources, and to build reliable plans to finance the developing countries and to finance that green recovery and not just recovery, create green plans for my country, to raise it from the war ashes as well. So this should be a massive shift in the policies, but also regulation of what fossil fuel companies are doing. Because states are responsible and governments are responsible for that. We see some new, new approved fossil fuel fields somewhere in Canada, somewhere in the US. And somewhere in the UK as well. Just just the thirst for these fossil fuels is so big that country’s governments are trying to drill for more oil and gas everywhere. And these should be stopped immediately with the state policies and with additional tariffs and taxes. And with that some doable and reliable plans of net zero, but just real plans, not the greenwashing one from the fossil fuel companies, how they transform themselves of being that that’s bloody profiting on the fossil fuels, and openings all around us that actually don’t belong to them. And next step would be, I would say that when people will be demanding an end to economic systems that allows their lives to be thrown into violent chaos, or the [wants] of despots and profiteers, because it requires this era of ending era of fossil fuels requires international cooperation to achieve. And this starts with, with an equal commitment to peace and to ending our reliance on fossil fuels, just to enable dictators to launch devastating wars using fossil fuel money. So and the last one, we must dismantle the violence systems of oppression, I truly believe that underpinning the fossil fuel industries that allow corporate corporations like Exxon, Shell Total, British Petroleum and others to exploit coal, oil and gas. Thank you.
Archana R: Thanks Svitlana, you gave a very multi layered answer, I think which is just right, you know, that the this regulation aspect with regards to fossil fuels and the role of states, but also how this plays into larger questions of oppression and building peace, particularly in Ukraine. So I guess to wrap up, my last question to you is, you know, about this sort of renewable energy future that we’re envisioning. So I think one thing to highlight is that renewable energy like wind and solar tends to be more decentralized in how it’s organized, you know, you mentioned we can’t own the sun and the wind in the way that Russia, for example, owns its fossil fuel reserves. And so you become less or countries become less dependent on other nations that have these oil, gas coal reserves. So but we still need to consider I think, supply chains of these heavy metals that are mined for solar energy for the panels as well as for battery storage, for example. So any concluding thoughts about this aspect and how we might set it up in a way that promotes both peace and no exploitation basically, of people and environments?
Svitlana R: Yes, thank you so much, also very aspirational question, because here, I started imagining that truly the future that will – the green future that will provide the prosperity and non oppression and elimination of patriarchy or the fossil fuels based system, and the huge effects they [have] had on the generations, many, many generations. And for me, in particular, when I think of the clean energy Transition, renewable energy transition, I think that it should be also a new era, which makes exploitation impossible. I do understand that it’s not an easy question to answer because we have an extraction problem. Also, very explicitly raising up in many countries, especially Latin America and some other countries as well. And I think that we took how we put efforts as a civil society and plays a leading role towards cheering these clean energy transition is understanding these far reaching consequences for mineral demand over the next 20 years. That of course, according to the IEA, again, because they are one who produce reports, how much of the minerals, and how many and how whatever variety of minerals, humanity will need to appropriately transit to renewable energy and to clean energy. And what is what is important to understand that there is no simple answer to this question, because the supply chain of critical metals and minerals is extremely complex even for now. But effective transition to clean energy will also require a circular economy for critical minerals as well, which means the seven R’s or five R’s or whatever many reuse, and other R’s that we will be able to implement within the circular economy. And the creation of renewable energy system and the transition towards a circular economy are therefore part of the same agenda, working towards truly sustainable energy systems that enables humanity to thrive, for decades to come. When we overcome the energy poverty, and when we enable energy access to all those billions of people who don’t have it yet, at the same time, I see it in my perspective, I see it, yes, the demand will rise, but the circular economy and effective efficient use can make a difference in how we use these minerals. And also, there is some possibility to substitute some minerals with some latest chemical production, which won’t require the direct extraction of those minerals from the earth – from the ground and from the earth. I think that this this is another point of why, where we can just put these efforts and financial resources to renewable energy in a getting more verified data, how we overcome NASA deficits, it may appear on the way to clean energy, but I think that that is completely doable. And community owned energy helps us to save resources. Zero emissions building where we set net zero emissions materials, which are with new efficient styles of how we manage and keep our built environment, zero emissions, all of it. And of course, this should be a huge, huge consciousness shift and huge shift in mindset, also those who will be the main consumers of renewable energy, because we will live in the societies where the energy will be distributed and community owned that requires the community. Also the community responsibility of how responsibly we consume this energy, and how we share this energy between [all] of us but I think it’s doable, because we are working towards the societal shift, and social change, which can happen overnight. But I see, I see the signs that this is happening already across different nations and countries. And the first time for me it was how we all got united and in solidarity when the war in my country in Ukraine started and we all just, I mean, all the massive climate movement organizations, grassroots activists groups, we started to demand the end the era of fossil fuels because it’s fully understandable that we cannot continue to live as we as we used to be continuously put into danger and be limited in our freedoms, and then be physically destroyed. So to avoid all of that, we need to enable, I would say it even goes beyond the democracy. Democracy, as I understand democracy, just the full freedom of non oppressive, fossil fuel based societies and economies will make us free will break us free. And to start from that, I think we just, we already are in the good track. We just need all just more efforts to break this dependency on fossil fuels and to understand that another world is possible. And yeah, I think that’s it. Thank you so much.
Archana R: Thank you, Svitlana, for all your thoughts today and also for all your work your courageous work on envisioning a world beyond war and fossil fuels and teaching us all about how those things are, are linked. So thank you so much.
Marie-Sol R: Thank you.
Svitlana R: Thank you so much Archana and Marie-Sol for inviting me to speak because I don’t believe I am teaching somebody, I’m just sharing the common wisdom that we hold as the movement all of us on all levels, and we are the power and we are the people who hold the whole the power to change. So thank you so much for inviting and having a space to speak.
Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty: https://fossilfueltreaty.org/
Total’s continued operations in Russia: https://www.reuters.com/business/energy/russia-avoids-energy-sanctions-oil-majors-flee-totalenergies-stays-2022-03-05/