Eight tankers carrying £220 million of Russian oil imports have arrived in Britain since the Kremlin sent troops and tanks into Ukraine, according to new analysis by Greenpeace.
The campaigning group set up an automated tracker of supertankers bringing in Russian fossil fuels, counting 1.9 million barrels of oil imports, most of which was diesel.
The UK government has banned Russian owned or operated ships from docking in UK ports, but ships flying other flags are permitted to import Russian fossil fuels.
Since these oil imports arrived legally, Greenpeace claims the ban on Russian ships is “tokenistic”.
“For peace, for the climate emergency and for the cost of living crisis, it really is imperative that we stop these Russian imports,” campaigner Georgia Whitaker told Sky News.
Russia supplies 18% of the UK’s diesel, used mainly in cars and heavy transport, as well as farm and fishing vehicles.
The UK has committed to phase out Russian oil by the end of the year in an attempt to “[choke] off a valuable source of income” to Moscow.
A government spokesperson said the UK “has no issues” with oil supply. The deadline at the end of the year is designed to allow time to adjust supply chains and minimize disruption. The UK also gets its diesel from Netherlands, Saudi Arabia, and USA, as well as domestically, and has been working with other oil producing nations to get their supplies flowing in the place of Russia’s.
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Greenpeace’s analysis illustrates the scale of the challenge of replacing Russian oil, as well as how much money could reach Moscow until the ban kicks in.
“Yes, 18% is a lot… Yes, [bringing in the ban] tomorrow night may be quite difficult, but we’re really trying to say that as soon as possible, we need to make sure that we are not funding the Kremlin by bringing in these diesel imports,” said Whitaker.
The British public’s outpouring of support for peace in Ukraine suggests “the public would not want to be unknowingly using Russian diesel in their cars,” she suggested.
Fossil fuel sales account for almost two fifths of the Kremlin’s revenue. The United States has made a similar pledge on Russian oil to the UK, and the EU is still fine-tuning its plan.
Greenpeace says improving energy efficiency and promoting accelerating greener travel plans would also help reduce demand for Russian fossil fuels.
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