Stung by Western sanctions that punish Putin for his war crimes against Ukraine, The first time that the Russian government approved using “unreinforced oil tankers” to sail through the country's Northern Sea Route, an extreme and dangerous journey.
The use of the vulnerable ships is to find a go around the hard-hit sanctions have had on their oil trade with Asia, according to reporting by the Financial Times. Warnings have been sent to Moscow that they risk a tanker rupture with ships that are not “ice class” vessels along Russia’s 3.500-mile-long northern coast.
Ice floes, currents, and winds can surround the vessel and crush it. Increasing Arctic Ocean wave heights pose a danger as well. Two of the vessels sailed to China in early September.
David Shepperd, Cris Cook, and Anastasia Stognei write:
The thin-hulled vessels sailed for China in early September, navigating one of the most dangerous ice passages on the planet for the first time, far from any capabilities to respond to oil spills.
“Sea ice is unpredictable and routes are very hard to maintain,” said Charlie Kronick at Greenpeace UK. “Using non-ice-class tankers makes the already high likelihood of an accident that much worse.”
Moscow has in recent years hailed the Northern Sea Route, which lies entirely within the Arctic waters, as offering a shorter shipping route to China. A warming climate has opened up the route in summer months, which is far quicker than sailing the normal way via the Suez Canal.
FT further reports that multiple ice-class ships became stuck in the Siberian Sea and needed to be rescued by icebreakers. Malte Humpert, a High North News reported quoted in the FT article:
“I think it’s a clear sign that for Russia, selling its energy at any cost trumps the environment. The nexus of climate change and geopolitics has created this situation. Russia is desperate to get its oil to market.”
Meanwhile, outside of Russia, the Banks are investing trillions of dollars in fossil fuel expansion in the Global South.
Bank financing for the fossil fuel industry in the 134 countries of the Global South has reached an estimated $3.2tr since 2016, when the Paris Agreement on Climate Change entered into force, according to ActionAid. Bank financing to the largest industrial agriculture companies operating in the same area amounted to $370bn over the same period. The two industries are the largest global contributors to climate change.
The Global South includes Brazil, India, Indonesia and China, alongside countries with smaller economies such as Nigeria and Mexico.
These countries, already disproportionately affected by climate change, are playing host to an increasing number of fossil fuel and industrial agriculture developments such as coal mines, gas wells, oil pipelines, coal-fired power plants and monoculture plantations that require copious quantities of fossil fertilisers and pesticides.