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EUROSOLAR is calling for "a full and rapid move to renewable energy to end Europe's and the world's fossil fuel dependency."(Photo: Costfoto/Barcroft Media via Getty Images)

War in Ukraine Shows Need for 'Rapid Move' to Renewables: European Advocates

"All parties must wake up," says EUROSOLAR, warning that the planet is "in the grips of an uncontrolled climate spiral that is virtually certain to render it uninhabitable within this generation."

Jessica Corbett

As Russian President Vladimir Putin's brutal attack of Ukraine continued Monday, a European nonprofit urged an immediate cease-fire while arguing that a swift global transition to renewable energy is essential for peace.

"The time for renewable peace has come."

"EUROSOLAR, the European Association for Renewable Energy, calls for a full and rapid move to renewable energy to end Europe's and the world's fossil fuel dependency," states the group's open letter. "It has led to endless war, untold suffering and misery for over a century, while distracting from the one common enemy threatening to consume all: accelerated fossil-fueled climate heating."

EUROSOLAR's letter is addressed to Putin and the presidents of Belarus, Ukraine, and the United States—Alexander Lukashenko, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, and Joe Biden. The Germany-based group's message came as Russian and Ukrainian officials engaged in peace talks amid mounting fears of nuclear war, allegations of war crimes against Russia, and a rising death toll in Ukraine.

"The assault by the Russian military on the Ukrainian people and their government is to be condemned in the strongest terms and must cease immediately," the letter states. "All nations that use military alliances to continually adjust spheres of interests and perpetually jockey for tactical and strategic advantages must halt their destabilizing practices."

Since even before the long-anticipated invasion, Putin has been demanding that Western officials address Russian security concerns, including the expansion of North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). Moscow wants Ukraine permanently excluded from the military alliance—a position the Biden administration and other member states refuse to support.

"All parties must wake up: Not only do we all stare into the nuclear abyss through long-failed disarmament attempts—the planet is also in the grips of an uncontrolled climate spiral that is virtually certain to render it uninhabitable within this generation," the letter warns.

EUROSOLAR on Monday reiterated its call for "Climate Peace Diplomacy," part of its 10-point Regenerative Earth Decade (RED) agenda for the 2020s. The group's president, Peter Droege, said that "the time has come for Climate Peace Diplomacy, to confront everyone's common enemy: advanced fossil climate destabilization."

Brigitte Schmidt, vice president and board member of EUROSOLAR Germany, agreed. "The time for renewable peace has come," she said, referencing the group's RED agenda. "It stands for rethinking and peaceful action for our common future."

Others worldwide have also connected the Russian attack to fossil fuels and the climate emergency. As U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) put it last week: "We must invest in a global green energy transition away from fossil fuels, not only to combat climate change, but to deny authoritarian petrostates the revenues they require to survive."

In a Friday opinion piece for Common Dreams, Family Farm Defenders vice-president Anthony Pahnke explained that the crisis in Ukraine displays the flaws of "crafting energy plans according to the concept of 'net zero-carbon emissions,' or 'carbon neutrality,'" which allows for the continued use of fossil fuels.

"Placing Russia's natural gas into Europe's energy plans was a critical mistake, not only for the climate, but for overall security concerns in the region," Pahnke wrote, noting debates over the Nord Stream 2 pipeline. "Countries such as Germany have hesitated in firmly responding to Putin because of the European Union's 'net-zero carbon emission' strategic goal."

"Fossil fuels are the problem," he concluded. "Prompt removal of them is the only answer."

American climate activist author Bill McKibben wrote Sunday in his newsletter The Crucial Years that while governments around the world are taking action to punish Moscow for the invasion, "little of it goes straight to the heart of Russia's power, which (besides nuclear weapons) is almost entirely based on its production of gas and oil."

"For decades Europe has cowered for fear Moscow would turn off the tap," McKibben pointed out. "But it need cower no longer. New technology—affordable and workable—means Europeans can heat their homes with electricity instead of gas."

"President Biden should immediately invoke the Defense Production Act to get American manufacturers to start producing electric heat pumps in quantity," he argued, "so we can ship them to Europe where they can be installed in time to dramatically lessen Putin's power."

As anti-war Russians risked arrest to protest the deadly invasion last week, the country's arm of the youth-led climate movement Fridays for Future demanded diplomacy, tweeting that "in a situation where the world is suffering from climate, environmental, and other crises, war will only exacerbate these crises, but will not help to solve them."

EUROSOLAR's letter was published the same day as a new Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, the findings of which United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres called an "atlas of human suffering and a damning indictment of failed climate leadership."

During the final session of a meeting to approve the IPCC report on Sunday, Oleg Anisimov, the leader of Russia's delegation, apologized for the invasion "on behalf of all Russians who were not able to prevent this conflict."

Speaking at the same event, Svitlana Krakovska, the head of the Ukrainian delegation, declared that "human-induced climate change and the war on Ukraine have the same roots—fossil fuels and our dependence on them."


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