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Climate and Environment

Why Ukraine’s Conflict Might Play A Pivotal Role In The Climate Crisis

A small group of people hold Ukrainian flags and carry handmade signs that read "Hands off Ukraine" and "Putin Go Home."
A demonstrator holds a sign next to a gas station during a rally in support of Ukraine in Los Angeles last week. \
(Ringo Chiu
AFP via Getty Images)
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When the bombs started to fall, Svitlana Romanko, a Ukrainian environmental lawyer and climate activist, was forced to flee her home in the city of Ivano-Frankivsk in western Ukraine. Still, she managed to help pen a petition calling on world leaders to ban imports of Russian oil.

“It is equally clear that this war machine has been funded, fed, and fueled by the coal, oil and gas industries that are driving both the invasion that threatens Ukraine and the climate crisis that threatens humanity’s future,” the petition states.

The goal is to hobble the funding behind Russian president Vladimir Putin’s war machine, as well as combat the climate crisis. More than 465 organizations across the world have signed the petition.

Russia gets 40% of its federal budget from oil and gas. Those fossil fuels are also 60% of of the country’s exports.

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Emissions from the burning of fossil fuels like oil and gas are the single-largest cause of the rapid heating of our planet. And Russia is the third-largest oil producer in the world, behind the U.S. and Saudi Arabia. That’s why sanctions on Russian fossil fuels have helped spike gas prices here in L.A.

Last week, the Biden administration banned imports of Russian oil, natural gas and coal. The order also prevents American companies from investing in Russia’s energy sector.

Romanko and other climate activists see the war as a moment to pivot towards cleaner energy–a shift that could reduce fossil fuel-related conflicts and improve the planet’s health.

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