Today President Biden delivers the State of the Union address amid the turmoil and devastation of Russia’s violent assault on Ukraine.  

It also comes the day after the IPCC issued their ‘bleakest warning yet’ on the impacts of climate breakdown, proclaiming the window to secure a livable future is closing.

Ukraine’s IPCC delegate, Svitlana Krakovska, summarized the situation powerfully: “Human-induced climate change and the war on Ukraine have the same roots -- fossil fuels -- and our dependence on them.”  

The conflict has exposed the deeper crisis in our energy system: its reliance on fossil gas. It has also put on display the propaganda machine that is the fossil fuel industry and its enablers who peddle their own interests even while countless face the violence of war.

The fossil fuel industry appears intent on exploiting this war for their gain. As the crisis escalated, the American Petroleum Institute was touting how US energy leadership is more important than ever. An executive at a think tank founded by Standard Oil and GM was running a column in Bloomberg and the Washington Post proclaiming “fracking Is a powerful weapon against Russia.”

Stock of the US’s largest liquefied gas exporter jumped 7.6 percent just hours after Russia’s invasion began. And just days ago, the US gas industry sent a letter to President Biden and Secretary Granholm to “offer [their] support” and urge that in light of the invasion, the White House should aim to bring about new “virtual transatlantic gas pipelines” to bolster US and European energy security.

Despite how the fossil fuel industry tries to exploit this moment, energy security solutions involve building a future without gas and the dismantling of polluters’ power.

We must drop gas altogether, not replace one volatile source with another. Locking Europe into more volatile imported gas for decades to come clearly doesn’t help the region’s energy security. The only winners would be the fossil fuel industry.

In the short-term, governments must put in place targeted support to protect households so those at the most significant risk of energy poverty can stay warm this winter. Governments should also deploy clean cheap renewable power, upgraded energy systems and better home insulation as fast as possible. The US could play a crucial role in driving this at home and abroad, speeding the phase out of fossil fuels.

The crisis in Ukraine cannot be a proxy for the fossil fuel industry to tout new projects that pollute our communities and lock the world into a gas reliance. We simply cannot allow political leaders to pander and cave to the fossil fuel industry amid a dangerous war exacerbated by fossil fuel dependence. We must urge Biden to commit to the Build Back Fossil Free campaign: phase out fossil fuels, phase out gas exports and expedite a just transition to clean energy.

Gas Ukraine invasion