Ending war and slowing global warming go hand in hand

The developed world’s voracious appetite for fossil fuels has allowed Russia and Saudi Arabia to engage in devastating wars beyond their borders. The economic power and global influence of these oil states is a product of the world’s heavy reliance on their vast reserves of oil and natural gas. The wars in Ukraine and Yemen can be described as fossil fuel wars.

Guillaume Felix [ UNKNOWN | Photo: Courtesy ]

Farhad Monjoo in The New York Times accurately describes Vladimir Putin as a “petromonarch, another in a line of unsavory figures that liberal democracies continue to do business with because they have something we can’t do without.” About half of Russia’s federal budget comes from oil and gas revenues. Russia is the world’s third largest oil producer behind the United States and Saudi Arabia.

Unfortunately, despite global denunciations of Putin’s attack on Ukraine, Russia has yet to experience a significant drop in its oil exports. On the one hand, India, Singapore and Turkey have dramatically increased their imports of Russian oil since the invasion. On the other hand, the United States recently decided to ban all oil imports from Russia, and the European Union has pledged to reduce Russian gas imports by two thirds by the end of this year.

Saudi Arabia is another corrupt oil state embroiled in a bloody war in Yemen where more than 17,500 civilians have been killed or injured since 2015. Saudi Arabia’s war capabilities are also a product of the world’s hunger for its fossil fuels. For example, while the United States produces oil in abundance, we still import hundreds of thousands of barrels of crude oil per day from Saudi Arabia, which represents more than 7% of total United States oil imports. . This oil business stabilizes and protects this corrupt Saudi regime.

Svitlana Krakovska is a Ukrainian climatologist and member of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. As Putin’s bombs and forces destroyed his country, Krakovska recently said The Guardian“I started thinking about the parallels between climate change and this war and it’s clear that the roots of both threats to humanity lie in fossil fuels. Burning oil, gas and coal causes warming. … And Russia sells those resources and uses the money to buy weapons. Other countries depend on these fossil fuels; they do not free themselves from it. This is a fossil fuel war. It is clear that we cannot go on living like this; it will destroy our civilization.

As Russia launched its war of aggression against Ukraine, the IPCC released its most detailed report yet on the threats posed by global warming. The report notes that the dangers have been very visible since 2019 with treacherous storms, floods and other extreme weather events that displaced millions of people. In addition, increasing heat and drought have killed crops and trees, causing a global increase in food insecurity and water scarcity. Written by 270 researchers from 67 countries, the report reveals that these negative impacts are widespread across all continents and very few countries remain unaffected. The stark message from the IPCC is clear. Millions of people around the world will face unimaginable devastation if we don’t quickly end our reliance on fossil fuels and stop global warming.

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Many national leaders, including President Joe Biden, have pledged to limit global warming to no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. This is the threshold at which IPCC scientists predict the likelihood of catastrophic climate impacts. To achieve this goal, these scientists say the nations of the world must virtually eliminate fossil fuel emissions by 2050. Unfortunately, we are not on track to meet this goal. Experts estimate that the world is currently on course to warm by 2-3 degrees Celsius this century.

The wars in Ukraine and Yemen show how human rights and environmental sustainability are intertwined. The solution should seem obvious. Prioritizing a rapid transition from fossil fuels to sustainable alternative energies (such as solar and wind power) is a path to ending war and preventing global warming.

The good news is that the transition to solar and wind power is happening at a faster pace than expected. In 2021, solar generation increased by 23% globally, while wind supply increased by 14% over the same period. According to independent climate think tank Ember, the two renewable sources now account for 10.3% of total global electricity generation. Ember’s report noted that the Netherlands, Australia and Vietnam had the fastest growth rates for renewable sources, shifting around 10% of their electricity demand from fossil fuels to wind and solar over the past two years. “If these trends can be replicated globally and sustained, the power sector would be well on the way to [the] 1.5 degree lens.

The growing availability and affordability of renewable energy such as wind and solar is prompting more countries to consider energy independence. Putin’s war in Ukraine has created a fusion of foreign policy and energy interests pushing for decarbonization. Germany, for example, has now pledged not only to phase out imports of Russian oil by the end of this year, but also plans to invest 200 billion euros in the production of renewable energy from ‘by 2026. Perhaps from the horror of Putin’s war in Ukraine, the nations of the world will embrace this new environmental agenda and end our alliances with the oil states in order to both prevent global warming and prevent future bloody wars.

William F. Felice is Emeritus Professor of Political Science at Eckerd College. He is the author of six books on human rights and international relations. He can be reached via his website at williamfelice.com.

Teresa H. Sadler