Climate Change

A year of Russia-Ukraine war: Global fossil fuel ‘bonanza’ may lead to more conflicts, warns Greenpeace

‘Neo-colonial models of extracting fossil fuels at any cost have to come to an end’

By DTE Staff
Published: Friday 24 February 2023
In 2023, the US is projected to export more fossil gas than any other country due to production in the Permian Basin — North America’s largest carbon bomb located in Texas and New Mexico. Photo: iStock

On February 24, 2022, Russia invaded Ukraine, leading to thousands of deaths and severe devastation. On the first anniversary of the invasion, international non-profit Greenpeace pointed out that more humanitarian challenges are ahead, warning of rapid expansion of fossil fuel projects and multiple conflicts that could follow.

The past year has seen nations worldwide united in condemning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and attempted illegal annexations. It has also seen Big Oil make record profits of almost $200 billion as a result of the war and governments doubling their spending on fossil fuel subsidies while approving new oil and gas projects.

Read more: The war in Ukraine hasn’t left Europe freezing in the dark, but it has caused energy crises in unexpected places

From sky-high fuel consumption and a ginormous carbon footprint to the degradation of thriving ecosystems caused by the fighting, the conflict in Ukraine has racked up environmental costs that will far outlive the actual fighting, said a report by daily Indian Express.

The fossil fuel subsidies include so-called carbon bombs, projects that could pump at least a billion tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions over their lifetime, said a press release by Greenpeace.

If unstopped, the carbon bombs would drag the world beyond the 1.5 degrees Celsius heating target and are bound to ignite new conflicts, warned a report by the US Intelligence Council.

In 2022, the US exported more fossil gas to the European Union than ever before, the non-profit said. In 2023, the US is projected to export more fossil gas than any other country due to production in the Permian Basin — North America’s largest carbon bomb located in Texas and New Mexico.

Rapidly greenlighting fossil gas infrastructure in the US and around the globe will have long-term dire climate and health consequences by locking us into decades of emissions that are all but guaranteed to push the world well past climate-safe thresholds, the Greenpeace press note added. 

“The answer to transitioning off of Russian oil and gas is not to outsource pain and suffering to another country but to accelerate the transition to renewable energy and rehabilitate off poisonous fossil fuels,” said John Noël, senior climate campaigner at Greenpeace USA. 

Governments around the world cannot continue to look the other way as fossil fuel chief executives sacrifice frontline communities like those in Louisiana and Texas, he further said. 

“The reckless expansion of oil and gas expansion in the Permian Basin and Gulf South stands to overshadow any environmental progress made by the Biden administration to date. We cannot meaningfully address the climate crisis while simultaneously sanctioning limitless production and export of oil and gas,” Noel added.

Beyond the European Union, where Permian Basin imports are detrimental to climate targets, planned gas exports include Mexico, as well as to East Asia, Greenpeace pressnote said. 

“Last year’s gas bonanza is threatening us with geopolitical instability. Mexico’s new planned pipeline will not simply import US gas, but it will deliver a blow to Latin American sovereignty,” warned Gustavo Ampugnani, executive director at Greenpeace Mexico. 

Other carbon bombs that are being tapped following last year’s assault on Kyiv include Australia’s Woodside gas fields in the Burrup Hub project, which poses multiple risks to marine ecosystems, including UNESCO-listed marine parks and endangered whale and turtle habitats, with imports planned as far as Germany, the non-profit added. 

Read more: A year of war: Step back from the brink, Guterres urges at UN General Assembly special session on Ukraine

The Democratic Republic of Congo has also seen relentless expansion of the fossil fuel industry.

Just two months after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the government had launched a massive auction of 30 oil and gas blocks, overlapping Indigenous lands and peatlands, threatening the release of at least three billion tonnes of carbon — more than the entire annual emissions of European Union countries.

“Oil and gas extraction has a lasting legacy of violence and destruction, from the Sudanese Civil War, the killings of Indigenous communities in Nigeria’s Ogoniland to contemporary conflicts such as in Mozambique,” said Melita Steele, programme director at Greenpeace Africa.

Clearly, neo-colonial models of extracting fossil fuels at any cost have to come to an end, she added.

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