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“End Imports of Russian Oil to Stop Financing Putin’s War”

NGOs also demand the country of origin for oil be made clear at petrol stations.

The European Union should embargo all oil and gas imports from Russia in order to stop financing Putin’s war on Ukraine, say 25 European NGOs in a public appeal to leaders. The coalition is also demanding that the country of origin for oil products be made clear at petrol stations to ensure consumers do not inadvertently fund the Putin regime.

Countries should introduce a tariff or levy on Russian fossil fuel exports ahead of a complete embargo of fossil fuel imports from Russia, the groups say. Oil accounts for four out of five dollars made on Russian oil and gas exports and has underpinned Putin’s military spending for over two decades. This must end, says the coalition of NGOs from Kiev to Lisbon.

Heorhiy Veremiychyk of the National Ecological Center of Ukraine, said: “Russia’s illegal war against Ukraine is devastating for the people of our country. Russian missiles and bombs are killing hundreds of Ukrainian defenders and civilians. This will only get worse. We need urgent action to cripple the Putin regime’s ability to fund the war. Russia continues to receive payments from European governments that inadvertently fund Russia’s assault on Ukraine. That must end.”

So far, oil and gas have not been included in the economic sanctions which, while necessary, are not stopping the Russian advance. Every day EU countries continue to transfer hundreds of millions of euros for oil and gas to the Putin regime — estimated at between €80 billion and €85 billion in 2022 — paying for its illegal war on Ukraine. Two-thirds of Russian oil imports are used in transport.

Freezing the fossil fuel trade with Russia will have impacts on energy prices, the groups say, but Putin’s extraordinary military aggression requires an extraordinary response. They call on governments to take decisive action to shield households and businesses from the negative impacts of the energy crisis. IEA countries which have 90 days worth of oil reserves for emergencies should deploy them to support countries with high exposure to Russia.

William Todts, executive director at Transport & Environment, said: “The rockets destroying Ukrainian cities are bought with the petrol in European cars. For 20 years we’ve been paying blood money to Putin. Ending our oil addiction is not just a moral imperative to address climate change, it is crucial to ending this war.”

In solidarity with the Ukrainian people, the groups demand the EU and the UK take the following actions, at least until Russia has ceased hostilities in Ukraine:

  1. To introduce an import tariff on Russian fossil fuel imports into Europe to reduce Russian oil profits ahead of a complete end to Russian fossil fuel imports into Europe, in line with the Paris climate and energy goals.
  2. Drivers deserve to know whether their petrol station is financing Putin’s war on Ukraine. We demand oil companies, fuel retailers and petrol stations disclose what share of petrol and diesel sold originates from Russia. We ask governments to introduce rules to ensure fuel retailers provide this information.
  3. To urgently adopt an action plan to reduce oil consumption in the short term, as simply shifting from Russian oil to Middle Eastern oil or other sources is not a solution, not for the climate, not for human rights, and not for energy security. Potential transport measures include maintaining high shares of homeworking and virtual collaboration to avoid unnecessary car and air travel, speed reductions, eco-driving, driving restrictions, promotion of walking, cycling and public transport, and the organisation of car-free weekends in cities. All of this will reduce reliance on imported oil, and reduce the upward pressure on oil prices.
  4. To set a new goal of achieving 50% battery electric car and van sales by 2025. The EU and UK CO2 standards should be brought forward to help achieve this goal. Special targets should be set to electrify high mileage vehicles such as company cars, fleets, taxis, and buses as replacing them with electric drive would have the largest near term oil demand impact.
  5. Measures to radically and immediately accelerate the build out of wind and solar power and to accelerate energy efficiency measures, in particular renovation of buildings, which also tackles energy poverty.
  6. The EU and its member states should double investment in energy saving and climate friendly investments as part of the €723 billion EU Recovery and Resilience funds.
  7. The Commission should immediately withdraw its proposal to label gas as “green” in the European Sustainable Finance Taxonomy. The EU should also cancel its plans to shift shipping to LNG as this would increase our dependence on gas imports.
  8. Facing major supply uncertainties about food and feed crop supplies from two of the EU’s main suppliers, Russia and the Ukraine, the EU and its member states must immediately suspend the use of food and feed crops in biofuels to ensure food security and to avoid massive food price inflation in Europe and beyond.

Full list of signatories:

  • National Ecological Center of Ukraine (Ukraine)
  • Transport & Environment (EU)
  • Cittadini per l’Aria (Italy)
  • Legambiente (Italy)
  • Réseau Action Climat (France)
  • VCD (Germany)
  • Zero (Portugal)
  • Levego (Hungary)
  • VCÖ (Austria)
  • Green Transition Denmark (Denmark)
  • FPPE (Poland)
  • 2Celsius (Romania)
  • BRAL (Belgium)
  • IEW (Belgium)
  • Transform Scotland (UK)
  • Aviation Environment Federation (UK)
  • Milieudefensie (Netherlands)
  • Campaign for Better Transport (UK)
  • Green Economy Institute (Poland)
  • VšĮ “Žiedinė ekonomika (Lithuania)
  • PKE (Polish Ecological Club) (Poland)
  • WAS (Warsaw Smog Alert) (Poland)
  • INSPRO (Institute for Public Affairs) (Poland)
  • Eco Union (Spain)
  • DVI (Sustainable Development Initiatives) (Lithuania)

Originally published on Transport & Environment.

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