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Greenpeace activists on the River Thames near London blocked a tanker carrying 33,000 tonnes of Russian diesel to the United Kingdom on May 16, 2022.

Greenpeace activists forced a tanker carrying 33,000 tonnes of Russian diesel to the United Kingdom via the River Thames near London to turn around on May 15, 2022. (Photo: © Saf Suleyman/Greenpeace)

'Oil Fuels War': Greenpeace Activists Block Tanker Carrying Russian Diesel to UK

"To stand up to Putin, bring bills down, and tackle climate change, the prime minister must get us off fossil fuels as fast as possible."

Kenny Stancil

Greenpeace activists have forced a Greek tanker carrying 33,000 tonnes of Russian diesel to the United Kingdom to turn around in the River Thames near London, part of a campaign to pressure British lawmakers and Prime Minister Boris Johnson to stop buying the fossil fuels funding Moscow's war on Ukraine and start focusing on a rapid clean energy transition.

"Putin's oil and gas is still getting through. So we showed them how it's done."

Skirting security, a dozen volunteers "reached the Andromeda tanker's intended berth at Navigator Terminals by boat late [Sunday] night and climbed onto it," according to Greenpeace. "Images from a vessel-tracking website show the tanker being turned around in the Thames shortly after the activists were in position."

Although police started making arrests in the early hours of Monday morning, "several protesters remain in place," the organization said, "with one activist on the offloading pipes, another hanging off the jetty, and others occupying the jetty preventing the tanker from docking."

As they prevented a tanker carrying nearly $37 million worth of Russian diesel from docking in Essex, campaigners unfurled banners with messages including "fossil fuels war" and "oil fuels war."

Greenpeace research published at the end of April showed that the U.K. imported almost two million barrels of Russian oil, worth roughly $270 million, in the first two months after Russian President Vladimir Putin launched his full-scale military assault on Ukraine.

"Putin invaded Ukraine nearly three months ago, and yet fossil fuel money from the U.K. is still funding his war chest," Georgia Whitaker, an oil and gas campaigner at Greenpeace U.K., said Monday in a statement. "Ministers have kicked a ban on Russian oil imports to the end of the year despite strong public support for it."

"The U.K.'s attachment to fossil fuels has backfired in the worst way possible," Whitaker continued. "We're funding a war, our energy bills and fuel costs are sky-high, and we're driving the climate crisis. It has to stop."

"To stand up to Putin, bring bills down, and tackle climate change," she added, "the prime minister must get us off fossil fuels as fast as possible, stop ludicrous energy waste from our substandard draughty homes, and prioritize cheap, clean, homegrown renewable power."

Last October, Russia brought in more than $500 million per day from global fossil fuel sales, which account for three-fifths of the nation's exports. Greenpeace's Russian Tanker Tracker reveals that hundreds of ships carrying oil and gas have continued to depart Russia for countries around the world since the start of Moscow's war on February 24.

The U.K. currently depends on Russia for 5% of its gas imports, 8% of oil imports, and 18% of its diesel. Kwasi Kwarteng, U.K. secretary of state for business, energy, and industrial strategy, has pledged to phase out Russian oil imports over the course of the year.

As a first step, the U.K. has vowed to turn away Russian-flagged and Russian-owned vessels from its ports. Russian fossil fuels are still arriving in vast quantities, however, via ships registered to other countries. That includes the Andromeda tanker, which is transporting diesel from the Russian port of Primorsk, supplied by the LLC KINEF refinery, under a Greek flag.

"Putin's oil and gas is still getting through," Greenpeace U.K. wrote Monday in a blog post. "So we showed them how it's done."

In recent weeks, Greenpeace activists have used the organization's tracking service to block shipments of Russian fossil fuels in the U.S., Denmark, Sweden, Poland, Belgium, Spain, and the Baltic Sea.

Turning to the United States and other countries to fill the energy void left by Russia sanctions with more fracked gas exports will not end the world's destructive reliance on fossil fuels, Greenpeace U.K. made clear.

"This is our moment," the organization wrote. "To tackle rising energy bills, the climate crisis, and stop funding war, our only long-term solution is to get off fossil fuels. To do this as fast as possible, we need to transition to renewable energy and make our homes energy efficient."

"Investing in wind and solar power on land and energy efficiency is the safest, least volatile, and quickest solution," argued Greenpeace. "We don't need more North Sea fossil fuel projects that will take decades to deliver. These won't tackle rising bills and will worsen the climate crisis. Instead, if we fund renewable energy and make our homes greener, we can cut our need for Russian gas this year and save money on our bills."

The British government "can set out an energy plan that protects and creates jobs, meets the U.K.'s energy needs in an environmentally friendly way, gives us stability in the face of future shocks, and means that we aren't funding wars across the world," Greenpeace stressed. "Let's move towards a renewable energy system that's fairer for people and the planet."

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