‘End imports of Russian oil to stop financing Putin’s war’

March 3, 2022

NGOs demand retailers disclose what percentage of their petrol and diesel sales in the UK are of Russian origin

The United Kingdom should embargo all oil and gas imports from Russia in order to stop financing Putin’s war on Ukraine, say 26 European NGOs in a public appeal to the government. This stops drivers and airline passengers inadvertently funding the Putin regime’s illegal war. The coalition is also demanding retailers disclose what percentage of their petrol and diesel sales are of Russian origin.

The UK government should introduce a tariff or levy on Russian fossil fuel exports ahead of a complete end to fossil fuel trade with Russia, the groups say. Oil accounts for four out of five dollars made on Russian oil and gas exports and has underpinned Putin’s military spending for over two decades. This must end, says the coaltion of NGOs from Kyiv to London. The UK imports over £2.5 billion of oil products from Russia, a third of its total exports to the UK.

Greg Archer, UK national director of Transport & Environment, said: “Our dependence on Russian oil and gas has bankrolled Putin’s aggression. Inaction now would be to condone the destruction of a free and democratic Ukraine and increase the threat to all NATO countries. At the petrol pump, consumers should have the choice of not inadvertently funding Putin’s war in Ukraine.

“Almost 85% of all petrol and diesel sold in the UK comes from seven companies – Tesco, BP, Shell, Esso, Sainsburys, Morrisons and Asda. We demand all fuel retailers transparently publish the country-of-origin mix of all oil products sold at the forecourt.”

So far, oil and gas have not been included in the economic sanctions which, while partially effective, are not stopping the Russian advance. Every day EU countries and the UK continue to transfer hundreds of millions of euros for oil and gas to the Putin regime – paying for its illegal war on Ukraine.

Freezing the fossil fuel trade with Russia will have impacts on energy prices, the groups say, but Putin’s extraordinary military aggression requires an extraordinary response and by reducing oil demand, the impact on prices and the cost of living can be limited. 

In solidarity with the Ukrainian people, the groups demand the UK and the EU take the following actions, at least until Russia has ceased hostilities in Ukraine:

  1. To introduce an import tariff on Russian fossil fuel imports into Europe to reduce Russian oil profits ahead of a complete end to Russian fossil fuel imports into Europe, in line with the Paris climate and energy goals. IEA countries have at least 90 days worth of oil import reserves for emergencies. They should be deployed to support countries with high exposure to Russia. 
  2. Drivers deserve to know whether their petrol station is financing Putin’s war on Ukraine. We demand oil companies, fuel retailers and petrol stations disclose what share of petrol and diesel sold originates from Russia. We ask the government to introduce rules to ensure fuel retailers provide this information.
  3. To urgently adopt an action plan to reduce oil consumption in the short term. This should include encouraging high shares of homeworking and increasing car-sharing for commuting to avoid unnecessary car and air travel. Reducing speeds to 60 mph on motorways and promotion of ecodriving. The reintroduction of temporary cycle lanes and additional funding to support buses. All of this will reduce reliance on imported oil, and reduce the upward pressure on oil prices.
  4. To set a new goal of achieving 50% battery electric car and van sales by 2025. 
  5. Measures to radically and immediately accelerate the build out of wind and solar power and to accelerate energy efficiency measures, in particular renovation of buildings, which also tackles energy poverty.
  6. The UK should double investment in energy saving and climate friendly investments. 
  7. Facing major supply uncertainties about food and feed crop supplies from two of Europe’s main suppliers, Russia and the Ukraine, the UK must immediately suspend the use of food and feed crops in biofuels to ensure food security and to avoid massive food price inflation in the UK and beyond

Full list of signatories:

  • National Ecological Center of Ukraine (Ukraine)
  • Transport & Environment (EU)
  • Cittadini per l’Aria (Italy)
  • Legambiente (Italy)
  • Réseau Action Climat (France)
  • VCD (Germany)
  • Zero (Portugal)
  • Levego (Hungary)
  • VCÖ (Austria)
  • Green Transition Denmark (Denmark)
  • FPPE (Poland)
  • 2Celsius (Romania)
  • BRAL (Belgium)
  • IEW (Belgium)
  • Transform Scotland (UK)
  • Aviation Environment Federation (UK)
  • Milieudefensie (Netherlands)
  • Campaign for Better Transport (UK)
  • Green Economy Institute (Poland)
  • VšĮ “Žiedinė ekonomika (Lithuania)
  • PKE (Polish Ecological Club) (Poland)
  • WAS (Warsaw Smog Alert) (Poland)
  • INSPRO (Institute for Public Affairs) (Poland)
  • Eco Union (Spain)
  • DVI (Sustainable Development Initiatives) (Lithuania)
  • Verkehrsclub (Switzerland)
  • Bond Beter Leefmilieu (Belgium)
  • Associació per a la Promoció del Transport Públic (Spain)

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