A New Cold War in Climate Emergency Times?

I have long believed that a silver lining to the very ominous cloud of global overheating is that, hopefully, the nations of the world would unite to turn things around and, in doing so, lay the basis for grassroots and governmental global cooperation on many other urgent issues leading to the kind of system change needed. To some extent this has begun to happen through the annual United Nations climate conferences and the adoption of agreements that are too weak, but are of some value, to jointly take action to shift away from fossil fuels.

This world political process has been one factor in the growth worldwide of wind and solar energy. However, because of the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the disastrous war since, these political and economic processes are definitely in jeopardy. One huge example is the vote taken by the European Parliament a week ago labeling methane gas and nuclear as “renewable energy” because Russian oil and gas is now verboten. European countries are now turning to the US and other countries to urge them to ramp up their oil and gas production and export it to Europe to replace what they’ve been getting for years from Russia.

Putin’s invasion and attempted military overthrow of the elected Ukrainian government is the primary reason for this war, but the rhetoric and pronouncements of Biden and others in his administration has not been helpful to ending it—just the opposite. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin saying, several months ago, that this war would go on for years was particularly problematic.

The US and European governments have not just provided support, including major military support, to Ukraine. Most have gone out of their way to make it more difficult for a ceasefire to go into effect. It’s like we’re being wrenched back decades to the Cold War between the US and the USSR.

It is not too late, and not too early, for the US and Europe to make a course correction. Now that the war has bogged down in the Donbas region, an area that has been one of the most Russian-friendly of anywhere in Ukraine, the United States should call for an immediate ceasefire and urge other countries to do the same. The relative stalemate in the Donbas and the suffering by both civilians and troops on both sides provides very strong reasons why an initiative for a ceasefire in place now could generate significant support from many nations, including some who have been giving support to Russia.

Another reason why a political campaign for a ceasefire in place makes sense is the mounting cost of the Russian destruction in Ukraine. President Zelensky has called for the world to come up with $750 billion for Ukrainian reconstruction. That’s an awful lot of money for one relatively small country. Think of what could be done with that much money when it comes to worldwide hunger, renewable energy, healthcare, education, pandemic vaccines and more.

Throwing the world off in its essential task of shifting off of fossil fuels as rapidly as possible—causing immense suffering for millions of Ukrainians and a huge problem of how to rebuild what has been destroyed—risking a many-years-long cold war between the US/Europe and Russia/China, including the heightened risk of nuclear war: these are immense negatives.

The Biden Administration has cast this as an historic struggle between good (the US and Europe) and evil (Russia and China). Although Putin stands out in the evil rankings right now, the US and Europe have a long history of colonialism, imperialism, racism, war and domination of the Global South. It’s time to see the big picture and the futility of this war as it is now being fought. It’s time for a diplomatic offensive for a ceasefire in place in Ukraine.

Ted Glick is an organizer with Beyond Extreme Energy, President of 350NJ-Rockland and author of the recently published books, Burglar for Peace and 21st Century Revolution. More info can be found at https://tedglick.com, and he can be followed on Twitter at https://twitter.com/jtglick.