• The fight against the climate emergency is today more than ever a cry for peace.
  • The invasion of Ukraine and the European Union’s sanctions show once again the enormous dependence of the economy on fossil fuels and how they have been financing wars for decades.
  • This crisis must drive the transformation of the current system towards energy and food sovereignty, climate justice and not resurrect obsolete fossil projects.

Ecologistas en Acción opposes war and military aggression, no matter who it comes from. Vladimir Putin’s regime must immediately withdraw its troops from Ukraine and Russia, Ukraine and NATO must comply with the Minsk Agreements. What is needed is a clear rejection of military escalation and a return to diplomacy. Therefore, Ecologistas en Acción calls on society to demonstrate against Russian aggression and war in Ukraine, NATO militarism and the economic interests of the European Union (EU) in the Ukrainian conflict.

The invasion of Ukraine has exposed the EU’s tremendous addiction to fossil fuels, which in turn has a huge social, environmental and climate cost. Today more than ever, the war exposes the seams in the system and signals that we are at a crucial moment to accelerate the energy transition and the reduction of current energy consumption. Sanctions and measures to stop financing this war should not be an excuse to increase fossil fuel infrastructures or to resurrect obsolete projects that had already been discarded years ago.

In this scenario, the EU proposes diversifying energy sources with the aim of reducing its dependence on Russian gas. This proposal was put forward several years ago. The result is that Russian gas still accounts for 45% of European gas imports. Similarly, the huge impacts of the alternatives envisaged by the EU, such as imports of gas from US fracking or increasing the flow of Azeri gas and Saudi oil, cannot be ignored.

Another EU proposal is for Spain to become a hub for gas exports to the rest of the European container. The environmental organisation states that this is unfeasible. Pipeline imports from Russia to the EU reached 13 million cubic feet per day in 2020, which is more than 17 times the current gas export capacity of the Spanish state. The increase needed to supply the EU would have to be achieved by importing gas via methane tankers, which would entail a threefold increase in gas imports. The economic and ecological cost of these imports is higher.

Even so, large companies in the sector and some political representatives are trying to resurrect highly impactful projects such as the MidCat gas pipeline and the illegal regasification plant at El Musel. Projects that have already been rejected due to their high economic and socio-environmental costs and which, far from being a solution, would become a long-term problem: they do not favour the EU’s energy security and diversification, but rather the generation of stranded assets that would further increase dependence on fossil gas in the future.

These proposals run counter to compliance with the Paris Agreement and the EU’s own energy transition. They would only serve to further benefit billion-dollar energy companies such as Enagás. Instead, the projected investment for these projects should be allocated to demand reduction measures and the appropriate development of renewables, which would have an immediate impact on energy security and lay the foundations for a just transition.

On the other hand, the EU must prevent the controversial Nord Stream 2 (NS2) pipeline linking Germany and Russia, which has cost billions of euros that could have been used to boost the energy transition. However, if Germany, as announced when the attacks began, does not issue the necessary certification for the pipeline to begin operations, the multinational consortium behind NS2 could challenge this decision through multi-million-dollar lawsuits against the country and the EU as a whole under the Energy Charter Treaty (ECT). Therefore, Ecologistas en Acción stresses once again its opposition to the ECT and demands the immediate exit of Spain and the other countries from the EU. It is time to stop paying with public money compensation for useless infrastructures that aggravate the climate crisis.

With regard to measures to avoid an unaffordable rise in electricity bills, although the establishment of a price limit in auctions or the elimination of the benefits to electricity companies that have fallen from the sky are important, we are still a long way from a reform that is up to the task. Excluding gas from the auction system is a temporary stop-gap that will not prevent the upward trend in electricity prices. Market liberalisation and an unfair tariff system controlled by the companies of the electricity oligopoly are still the underlying causes of a price escalation that seems to be unchecked, as Ecologistas en Acción has been warning for some time.

Fossil fuels are intimately linked to energy poverty. The most vulnerable families are the most affected by these price rises, as they are the least able to invest in energy efficiency measures. It is more essential than ever to ensure support for these families through the implementation of a social tariff, a rapid energy rehabilitation of homes and a switch to renewable thermal systems.

The worst fear is that the conflict could escalate into a nuclear war, which would have dramatic consequences. A threat of nuclear war would not have happened if global nuclear disarmament had been achieved, which is why Ecologistas en Acción demands the ratification of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. In addition, fears of an attack on one of Ukraine’s 15 nuclear reactors have highlighted the threat posed by this type of energy, despite the EU’s new taxonomy proposal.

The dependence of the agro-industrial sector on large resource transport chains, such as grain for animal feed or fertilisers, is also evident. The declarations of the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, along the lines of downgrading the “farm to table” strategy or paralysing the application of food safety standards, respond solely to the interests of big agribusiness. Lifting restrictions on banned GMOs, environmental standards or the use of plant protection products will only aggravate the global social and food crisis. Now is the time to reduce the burden on livestock and reconvert industrial livestock farming, to stop the production of biofuels from food raw materials and to opt for self-sufficiency. Promoting a different model of production and consumption will allow savings to be made on different inputs, benefiting agricultural income and leading to an economy that is more resilient to these situations.

In the face of the global health, environmental and social emergency, Ecologistas en Acción points out that disarmament and demilitarisation processes are needed: reduction of global military spending and its use for health and education, conversion of the arms industry into a renewable energy industry and dismantling of the nuclear arsenal. Peace will only be possible in an environmentally and socially sustainable society.

The original article can be found here