UK's Fossil Fuel Imports from Authoritarian States Surge to £19.3bn Post-Ukraine Conflict, Reveals Report
In the year following Russia's invasion of Ukraine, UK fossil fuel imports from authoritarian petrostates have surged to £19.3 billion, according to data analyzed by DeSmog from the Office for National Statistics.
Efforts to reduce reliance on oil and gas from Russia have seemingly resulted in increased imports from other authoritarian regimes, including Algeria, Bahrain, Kuwait, Libya, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
Recent data shows that the UK's fossil fuel imports from Russia fell to zero in January 2023, following a £600 million import in February 2022 during the month of the Ukraine invasion. However, this decline has been compensated by over a 60% annual increase in imports from other authoritarian petrostates.
Despite efforts to diversify imports, last year marked a record high in energy imports for the UK, surpassing £100 billion for the first time, with DeSmog's analysis revealing a spend of over £125.7 billion on fossil fuel imports in the year starting February 2022.
The International Energy Agency emphasizes that achieving net zero requires substantial declines in coal, oil, and gas usage, necessitating a comprehensive transformation of the global energy system.
Notable imports include £6.9 billion from Qatar, £3.4 billion from Saudi Arabia, £2.6 billion from Kuwait, and £2.5 billion from the UAE.
Dominic Kavakeb of Global Witness remarks, "While reducing dependence on Russian fossil fuels is necessary, replacing them with imports from other authoritarian regimes engaged in conflicts raises concerns of hypocrisy and shortsightedness. It's time to create an energy system that benefits people and the planet, not dictators and warmongers."
As the UK increases its reliance on Gulf states, it raises questions about the strategic and political motivations behind this shift, as well as the associated human rights implications.
The continued dependence on fossil fuels also comes with significant costs for the UK population. The Energy and Climate Change Intelligence Unit (ECIU) projects that the average UK household will spend nearly £6,000 on foreign gas over the next 12 years, including £140 on Qatari gas annually. A net zero home could reduce this cost to £1,400 by 2030.
The government acknowledges the need for a transition to cleaner energy while emphasizing the ongoing necessity of oil and gas over the coming decades.