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Swimmers and kayakers attempt to block a Russian tanker transporting oil in Danish waters on March 31, 2022.

Swimmers and kayakers attempt to block a supertanker transporting Russian oil in Danish waters on March 31, 2022. (Photo: © Kristian Buus / Greenpeace)

'Stop Fueling the War': Kayakers Block Transfer of 100,000 Tonnes of Russian Oil

"Governments should have no excuse as to why they continue throwing money into fossil fuels that profit a few and are fueling war, now in Ukraine," said one Greenpeace campaigner.

Kenny Stancil

Braving frigid ocean temperatures off the coast of northern Denmark, Greenpeace activists on Thursday attempted to block a Russian oil shipment and urged countries around the globe to stop buying the fossil fuels that are funding Moscow's war on Ukraine and to pursue an ambitious clean energy transition for "peace and safety."

"We shouldn't just switch to using more oil, coal, and gas from other countries."

While holding placards that say "stop fueling the war," swimmers and kayakers from Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland, and Russia placed themselves between two supertankers in an effort to prevent the transfer of 100,000 tonnes of Russian oil from one vessel registered in Malta to another registered in Singapore.

"It is clear that fossil fuels and the money flowing into them is at the root cause of the climate crisis, conflicts, and war, causing immense suffering to people all over the world," Sune Scheller, head of Greenpeace Denmark, said from an inflatable boat in Kattegat.

"Governments should have no excuse as to why they continue throwing money into fossil fuels that profit a few and are fueling war, now in Ukraine," Scheller added. "If we want to stand for peace, we must end this and urgently get off oil and gas."

Every time Russian fossil fuels are purchased, "Putin's war chest grows," Greenpeace International said in a statement.

According to a tracking service developed by Greenpeace UK, at least 299 supertankers carrying oil and gas have left Russia since it launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine on February 24, and 132 of them were destined for Europe.

In recent years, the European Union has imported more than a quarter of its crude oil, roughly two-fifths of its gas, and nearly half of its coal from Russia, shelling out nearly €60.1 billion in 2020 alone. Last year, European nations paid up to $285 million per day just for Russian oil.

Although some governments have vowed in recent weeks to turn away Russian vessels from their ports, "Russian coal, oil, and fossil gas is still arriving via ships registered to other countries," said Greenpeace International.

While the E.U. is taking steps to reduce its reliance on Russian fossil fuels in the coming months and years, it has yet to reach an agreement on an import ban, and by turning to the United States to supply more fracked gas, the bloc is not ending its broader dependence on fossil fuels.

"If we want lasting peace and more equity globally, we need to change to peaceful green energy sources."

In addition to an embargo on Russian oil and gas, Greenpeace advocated for a rapid global phaseout of planet-wrecking fossil fuels. Governments worldwide should "make long-term choices in response to the war in Ukraine that will help to create peace and safety," the organization stressed.

"I am not only protesting Russian oil and fossil fuels," Olga Lupilina, a Russian activist with Greenpeace Denmark who participated in Thursday's blockade, wrote in a blog post. "We shouldn't just switch to using more oil, coal, and gas from other countries. If we want lasting peace and more equity globally, we need to change to peaceful green energy sources."

"Unlike fossil fuels, renewable energy doesn't feed geopolitical power struggles or inequality or give massive power and wealth to selected individuals, companies, or countries," Lupilina argued.

Scheller, meanwhile, pointed out that "we already have the solutions and they are cheaper and more attainable than ever before."

"All we need is the political will to rapidly switch to peaceful sustainable renewable energy and invest in energy efficiency," said Scheller. "This will not only create jobs, lower energy bills, and tackle the climate crisis, it will also cut our dependence on the imported fossil fuels fueling conflicts in the world."

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