“How is the G7 different from Putin? asks Ukrainian climate activist – POLITICO

GARMISCH-PARTENKIRCHEN, Germany — If the G7 really cared about the future, Ukraine or anywhere else, they wouldn’t be scrambling to fund new sources of fossil fuels.

That’s the message young climate activist Ilyess El Kortbi brought from Kharkiv, Ukraine, to the G7 in Germany’s pine-covered Bavarian Alps.

For El Kortbi, fighting for the future has a macabre and twisted new meaning.

“I already have three dead friends,” Ilyess El Kortbi told POLITICO. Right now, on a sunny afternoon, he can say it in a “calm way”, he said, but “I often have nightmares and crying hysterically”.

Along with El Kortbi, the trio had been founding members of a chapter of the Greta Thunberg-inspired Fridays for Future climate movement in Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city that suffered heavy damage in Russian bombing.

“We’ve been together,” he said, “fighting for our future and three of them, they don’t have that future, just like they don’t have that life.” Another of his fellow climate activists is fighting on the front lines after being drafted.

Leaders of the world’s most powerful democracies are meeting at a luxury resort eight kilometers upriver from the temporary media center in the city of Garmisch-Partenkirchen, which is closest to activists like El Kortbi allowed to travel to the ‘stock.

The leaders met Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy via video link on Monday and offered their “unwavering” support for the country and asked that it be allowed to “choose its own future”.

Ilyess El Kortbi speaking from Kharkov, Ukraine at the G7 in Bavaria, Germany | Photo by Konrad Skotnicki

For El Kortbi, it’s an absurd thing to say as Europe continues to spend around 800 million euros a day on Russian fossil fuel imports, while the climate is deteriorating. As a reminder of the latter, temperatures approached 30 degrees in the mountains on Monday. El Kortbi is hiding in a tent because he suffers from a sun allergy – but that’s not why he became a climate activist, he said.

“We have a war in Ukraine, a climate war, a war fueled by fossil fuels, which is happening for the same reason as the climate crisis. And they just keep spending on it. And they just accelerate the destruction “, did he declare.

Fridays for Future calls for an immediate Russian gas embargo and a huge boost to renewables.

The argument made by European leaders – including European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, whom Fridays for Future campaigners have met on several occasions – is that they are in full agreement that that the root cause of their problems is fossil fuels.

But the financial pain of giving up energy from Russia without first securing alternative sources has left Europe stuck in the morally untenable position of funding a war they mourn. Meanwhile, G7 host and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz is pushing for funds to build gas projects to cover any shortfalls.

This is not enough for El Kortbi. “How are the G7 leaders different from Putin if most of them are thinking about profits? ” He asked.