1 year On: Ukraine And the Energy Transition

Today marks the tragic one year anniversary of the war in Ukraine. On March 4, 2022, in the first days of the horrific russian invasion, building upon my background as a Ukrainian environmental lawyer and climate campaigner, I established the Stand With Ukraine campaign.
The campaign launched with a letter demanding that world leaders end the global fossil fuel addiction that finances putin’s war. It was a huge success, collecting signatures from more than 860 organizations in 60 countries, and resulting in numerous countries starting effective sanctions and embargoes on russian fossil fuels, effectively helping to dry up putin’s war budget. The campaign has also catalyzed the renewable energy revolution globally. In 2022, the world spent the most money in history on the transition to clean electricity ($1.1 trillion), of which $495 billion went to solar and wind energy, and the EU added 41.4 GW of solar capacity, powering 12.4 million homes. It also resulted in our creation of a new high-impact Ukrainian-based NGO, Razom We Stand.

We are demanding a full embargo and enforcement of sanctions on russian fossil fuels, the cessation of all investments into russian energy infrastructure, and an end to all fossil fuel production around the world. We need this in order to both dry up the funding of russia’s war machine, and to accelerate the imperative global transition from war-proliferating fossil fuels to clean renewables and energy independence.

We, the people of Ukraine, are still fighting a war —  a war for our right to exist, a war for the defense of our country, a war for the safety of our people, and a war for the preservation of our values, which are a singular focus for every Ukrainian. 

However, we can’t postpone the question of reconstruction until after we achieve victory. Ukraine’s infrastructure – including its transportation and energy systems – has been heavily damaged, and already we are working across the country daily to rebuild critical infrastructure.

Investments in roads, bridges, grids, and renewable energy projects will help to modernise and improve our infrastructure, to develop energy self-reliance, to support economic growth and development and to assure long lasting stability and prosperity. 

Prior to the war, Ukraine had seen substantial increases in renewable capacity. The Ukrainian government set a goal of sourcing 25 percent of its total energy mix from renewables by 2035. In 2009, renewables accounted for around 3 percent of Ukraine’s electricity generation mix, and by the end of 2020, this share had increased to 12.4 percent. There remains a huge and untapped renewable potential from resources including wind, solar, and biomass. 

As a result of the invasion, the global energy industry is shifting dramatically before our eyes,  and government responses around the world have the power to make this a historic and definitive turning point towards a cleaner, more affordable, and more secure energy system. 

The invasion of Ukraine will end. Now is the time for policymakers and powerbrokers to act – by cutting murderous oil, gas and coal money flows to russia and everywhere. In doing so, we will chart a new course for Ukraine and the world, one that frees us from the ties of fossil fuel dictators and embraces a renewable powered future. 

The path towards freedom from petro-dictators is open: we must mobilise our societies for rapid innovation and completely eliminate fossil fuels to create a more prosperous and peaceful future, for Ukraine, and the whole world.


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