Can Russia’s war in Ukraine be a ‘nail in the coffin’ for fossil fuel use?
A new landmark report for the Climate Crisis Advisory Group (CCAG) has called for the war in Ukraine to act as a symbolic “nail in the coffin” for fossil fuel use across the globe, calling for an urgent transition to low-carbon energy that combats rising energy prices and protects vulnerable communities that currently rely on gas.
The Climate Crisis Advisory Group’s (CCAG) new report calls for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the war to be “understood and acted upon as one more nail in the coffin of a fossil-fuel driven world economy”, arguing that discussions around using more fossil fuels to combat rising energy costs are not compatible with a 1.5C future.
The report argues that the ongoing rhetoric from some parts of the media and in some policy circles does not deliver a “climate safe” response to the ongoing energy crisis. Instead, the report argues that policies that promote demand and supply flexibility and security, maximising existing generation capacity and “fast-tracking” low-carbon solutions would deliver the best short and mid-term fixes to the energy supply squeeze.
Sir David King, Chair of the Climate Crisis Advisory Group, commented on the report: “The Russia-Ukraine war is another stark reminder of the urgent imperative to phase out global dependence on fossil fuels. We cannot afford to use the current fuel shock as an excuse for actions that directly contradict the Paris Climate Accord objectives – CCAG believes there is no need to act as if the objectives of an energy-secure and a climate-safe world are mutually exclusive.
“The actions we take now in response to the war can and must align with climate-safe objectives and outcomes – they hold no downside, and only provide upsides for the future of humanity. It is only good decisions, even under difficult circumstances, made swiftly and decisively that can ensure a safe future for humanity.”
CCAG does emphasise that many nations will face a difficult transition away from fossil fuels due to an over-reliance on gas. Finland, for example, relies on Russian gas for about 68% of its natural gas consumption, while many farmers in Africa and Brazil rely on Russia for fertilizers. However, the report warns that the global transition away from fossil fuels cannot be delayed and states that current high energy prices should act as an incentive to move away from coal and gas, rathe than using more of it.
The report does suggest that policies should be put in place to support communities most at risk from the transition through measures such as social dividend systems such as direct payments.
Earlier this year, the G7 pledged to phase out their dependency on Russian oil and gas and issued a rallying call for the rest of the world to promote a swift clean energy transition.
Many nations have outlined plans to accelerate their adoption of domestic nuclear and renewable power generation in a bid to end imports of oil and gas from Russia sooner than they had intended before it invaded Ukraine. However, several of these plans, including those from the UK and the EU, also detail intentions to scale oil and gas imports from other places and to increase domestic fossil fuel production if necessary.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres unveiled a new five-point plan for accelerating the global energy transition, stating that renewables are “the only path to real energy security”.
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