“They’re using this money to kill people,” Roman Shakhmatenko told the Nairobi-based meeting from a basement bomb shelter
Ukraine’s deputy environment minister urged leaders to choke off support to Russian fossil fuel interests, in a speech to the UN Environment Assembly on Tuesday.
Speaking from what looked like a basement bomb shelter in Kyiv, Roman Shakhmatenko told the Nairobi-based meeting: “For decades, a lot of leaders… have been using limitless and unstoppable fossil fuels.”
“We’ve ignored the issue that it’s influencing climate change. We’ve ignored that it’s influencing our future, our global future,” he added.
“Moreover,” he said, “this ignorance brought [the]Rise of mad, of crazy dictators who have a lot to kill people and destroy [the] environment.”
He sighed deeply before continuing: “With this in mind, I urge you please take joint action [to] withdraw all of the assets, all of the shares from Russian fossil fuel companies… because they’re using this money to kill people.”
Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, western oil and gas majors have announced plans to divest from Russian oil and gas interests. Their commitments vary in strength.
Equinor and Shell have announced that they will end their joint ventures in Gazprom. BP has stated it will exit its 20% stake at Rosneft. ExxonMobil has begun to wind down operations and exit its far eastern Russian oil field. Eni has stated that it plans to sell its 50% stake of a pipeline linking Russia and Turkey.
French major Total Energies has only said it will halt new investments, not ditch its 19% stake in Novatek, which includes development of LNG in the Arctic.
BP, Equinor and Shell are minor shareholders. Therefore, operations will continue as before. Exxon is the majority shareholder, operator and operator of Sakhalin 1’s oil and gas field.
Asked whether this would disrupt Russian oil and gas production, the energy lead for Ukrainian environmental NGO Ecoaction Kostiantyn Krynytsky told Climate Home it was the “million dollar question”.
“I think it can work in a package,” he said, with sanctions on Russian assets. He added that just a minor reduction in production would not be enough though, as the current war was financed by “business as usual” after Russia’s 2014 invasion of the Ukrainian region of Crimea.
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Russian fossil fuels are also being targeted by western governments. Europe imported 175 billion cubic metres of gas per year from Gazprom in 2020. This money is used to support the Russian state.
Ursula Von Der Leyen, president of the European Commission, stated yesterday that the EU was building new terminals for liquified natural gases to allow ships to import gas from other countries. Europe’s biggest LNG suppliers in 2020 were Qatar, Nigeria, Russia and the USA.
In the long run, she said investment in renewables would make the EU “truly independent” because “every kilowatt-hour of electricity Europe generates from solar, wind, hydropower or biomass reduces our dependency on Russian gas and other energy sources” and that “means less money for the Kremlin’s war chest”.
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The Commission is quickly revising its gas security strategy to emphasize replacing Russian supplies with alternative sources. The draft proposal would also require member countries to fill their gas storage before next winter and speed-up permitting for new solar and wind farms.
A Bruegel analysis concluded that Europe could get off Russian Gas without increasing oil or coal use.
In Europe, Russia’s biggest customer for gas is Germany. Berlin is drawing up plans to reduce the country’s use of Russian gas, mainly through green measures. Finance minister Christian Lindner has labelled renewables “freedom energy”.
The German government plans to use LNG from non-Russian nations, install heat pumps, non-gas district heating, and increase renewable energy in the short-term. This will require training programs for heat pump installers and cash for investments.
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It may also postpone the closure of coal fired power stations. Robert Habeck, Green economy minister said that energy security is more important right now than climate action. However, there are no signs that the government will abandon its plans for coal-fired power elimination by 2030.
Climate Home analyst David Ryfisch from Germawatch said that nuclear plant closures cannot be delayed. The decommissioning process has already begun and it is uncertain if it can be safely reversed.
In the long term, Germany has brought forward its 100% renewable electricity target from “well before 2040” to 2035. It wants to achieve 80% renewable electricity by 2030.
Although there is a strong demand for gas from Asia it would be difficult for Russia to reroute its sales, as Russia’s gas is mainly produced west of Siberia and connected to Europe via pipelines.
Russian oil traded at a premium of $18 per barrel on Wednesday, as buyers were wary about legal and reputational risk.
Ben Cahill, an energy researcher at the Center for Strategic and International (CSIS), said that Asia would not be able to replace European markets for oil. Around 60% of Russia’s oil exports go to OECD Europe while 20% go to China.
Cahill told the CSIS podcast: “It’s a significant exporter to both markets. It’s the critical supplier to Europe. They can’t replace Europe as a buyer for crude oil products. No they can’t”.
“This is the end of Russia as an energy superpower”, added Cahill’s colleague Nikos Tsafos.
Source: Climate Change News