“Our addiction to fossil fuels fuels global warming and finances the war that threatens us”

Dtwo apparently unrelated events, two registers of information processing, two causes for deep concern. A few days apart, on February 24 and 28, Vladimir Putin launched the Russian army into Ukraine and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released the second part of its sixth report, the most alarming report to date by the UN body. This describes the catastrophic impact, current and future, of global warming on the biosphere and human societies.

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The war at the gates of the European Union on the one hand, climate change on the other: nothing seems a priori to bring these two threats closer together. The first is dazzling; the second is chronic. The first saturates the media space; the second made only a brief appearance. The first is finally due to the desire and the madness of a single man, when the second is due to the intangible laws of physics. However, over these two threats hangs the same perfume of hydrocarbons.

As we know, coal, oil and gas are the main contributors to global warming, but they are also the main sources of financing for Vladimir Putin’s Russia. Since the start of hostilities, this paradox has been repeatedly emphasized: our addiction to fossil fuels has armed the master of the Kremlin and allowed his regime to prosper for nearly a quarter of a century.

Irony of the calendar

The online newspaper Politics made this cruel calculation: with 2020 as the reference year, Russian military expenditure (56 billion euros) more or less corresponds to the value of fossil fuel exports from Russia to Europe (59 billion euros) . In particular, the dependence of the European Union – Germany and Italy in the lead – on Russian gas is major. In total, 40% of the gas consumption of the countries of the Union comes from Russia. The inability to shake off our addiction to fossil fuels not only fuels global warming, it funds the war that now threatens us.

How not to note a form of irony in the calendar? On February 2, the European Commission, under German pressure, included natural gas in its now famous taxonomy of “green” activities, making it possible to benefit from financing intended for the ecological transition. Three weeks later, the war in Ukraine starkly highlighted the geopolitically unsustainable nature of Europe’s dependence on Russian gas. And at the same time, the International Energy Agency (IEA) confirmed that methane leaks from the oil and gas complex are probably about twice as high as the official figures compiled in national emission inventories.

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