Accelerate transition away from fossil fuels in name of peace, 500 green groups urge world leaders

Pictured; Gas infrastructure operated by Gazprom, which is majority state-owned by Russia

The letter was sent yesterday (Wednesday 27 April), as the world marked two months since Russia first began its war in Ukraine. It has been coordinated by Climate Action Network International (CAN International) and received the backing of hundreds of organisations across six continents, including climate and nature charities, civil society groups and business coalitions.

The letter states that while the war and the climate crises “may seem entirely independent, they share the same dangerous thread: dependence on fossil fuels”. It has been sent in the same week that the EU has accused Russia of fossil-fuel-based “blackmail”, due to Russia’s cutting off of Poland and Bulgaria from Gazprom gas.

As the UK, US and many other nations have done, the EU has been prompted by Russia’s actions to rethink its energy import strategies. The bloc is aiming to become independent from Russian oil and gas “well before 2030” and is planning to boost energy efficiency, electrify transport and accelerate the deployment of renewables and energy storage systems to deliver this vision. It will also scale natural gas storage within Europe.

The letter calls on world leaders to go further, taking steps to end the expansion of fossil fuel extraction domestically and internationally. It notes that the International Energy Agency’s (IEA) 2050 net-zero scenario is predicated on there being no expansion of oil and gas beyond what was already underway in 2021.

Additionally flagged are the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) recent reports. The most recent IPCC report, the Sixth Assessment from Working Group III, concludes that global emissions will need to be 48% lower in 2030 than in 2019 id the global temperature increase is to be capped to 1.5C. Achieving this level of reduction will require a major downsizing of the existing fossil fuel stock and future fossil fuel pipeline.

Another demand of the letter’s signatories is that windfall taxes are levied on fossil fuel companies in the near term to help customers cope with soaring prices. Revenues raised through these tax schemes, the letter argues, could help reduce bills, with a focus on the most vulnerable, and could also be invested in low-carbon energy. The letter states that support should be prioritized for renewables over nuclear, with nuclear being described as “dangerous and costly”.

Here in the UK, the Green Party and Labour Party have been pushing for this kind of windfall tax. The Conservative Government has previously rubbished the idea but, under increasing pressure, is reportedly reconsidering its stance.

The letter implores world leaders to create an international plan for an equitable phase-out of fossil fuel production and use, which ensures that “the renewable energy future [does] not repeat the violence of the extractive, fossil fuel past”. It urges nations to increase energy and resource efficiency and promote distributed, renewable-based energy systems.

“This is the opportunity of our lifetimes to stop the violence of fossil fuels and build a new era of peace and justice to confront the climate crisis,” the letter concludes.

Of the 500+ signatories, the majority are from the US. 21 are from the UK, including Global Witness, Gower St, the New Weather Institute, SHE Changes Climate and Stamp Out Poverty.

Earlier this week, a major report from McKinsey concluded that global oil demand is likely to peak within three years and that, by 2050, 85% of the global power system would be accounted for by renewables.

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