The suspension of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline from Russia to Germany is only the beginning of a much larger new energy strategy that Europe is intensifying in light of Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine. It is a pivot away from the reliance on Russian gas and towards renewable energy that European leaders have been talking about for many years, going back to the 1990s.
“Europe should and will likely be independent of its gas imports,” said Sandrine Dixon, co-chair of the Club of Rome and ambassador of the Energy Transition Commission and one of the co-authors of the 1990 Directive on Clean Fuels. , “We urgently need to look at where we can optimize our energy system. Where can we ensure efficiency? How can we start looking at supporting policies … making sure they protect those citizens.” Who are most at risk?”
Russia currently provides 40% of Europe’s energy, but a new EU strategy is to be unveiled around 1 Marchscheduled tribe Calls to reduce this to 40% by 2030 – that is, in eight short years. It requires European energy companies to store natural gas as much as they will now need for less Russian gas next winter, and accelerates the permitting of renewable energy projects.
better late than never
“Europe hasn’t invested in infrastructure, it really needs to be able to see renewable energy coming forward,” Dixon pointed to previously introduced plans to avert such a gas crisis. “We clearly indicated that first energy efficiency, and then we had to invest three times in renewable energy and we set goals.” She said they should have moved away from their reliance on gas “when we had the last gas crisis and the Ukrainian crisis,” possibly referring to Russia’s annexation of Crimea.
Dixon suggested that subsidies going to fossil fuels be stopped and shifted to drive a clean energy economy. The Energy Transition Commission is releasing an analysis next week that includes, it said, which “also looks at the long-term role of storage, the way we design incentives for renewable energy,[and]the fact that We need new retail market structures that protect consumers from marginal price volatility.”
“We put out so many reports during the first climate and energy package, where we made it clear that, for example, if we implement the buildings directive across Europe by 2030, we will be 100% free of Russian gas. And yet, here we are, in this situation,” Dixon lamented. “We have assumed that gas will remain in the market, and that is the real problem. The fact is that Europe should be independent of its gas imports and there is a possibility… we will have to see a total change in our infrastructure.
Climate change and geopolitics
Various European nations and the European Union are developing a range of strategies to address climate change, including some announced at the United Nations climate conference known as COP26 last November. These include announcements to reduce methane and to reduce deforestation made by President Biden and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson in a Dixon-hosted panel. For example, Germany last December approved $68 billion for climate and green infrastructure investments.
Many leaders acknowledged that Europe would be in a better position today – especially in light of Russia’s attack on Ukraine on top of already high energy prices – if they turned away from Russian gas years ago, but few Europeans Policy makers who have been on the fence reportedly needed to reassure the current crisis to act now. A new analysis by the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA) found that European policymakers have focused on building gas infrastructure rather than diversifying energy sources. But now they are stepping up.
Italy is raising corporate taxes on energy companies and Spain is approving a tax on utilities, Dixon explained, with some countries enacting policies to protect consumers from high electricity bills.
European policy makers, including Dixon, acknowledged that building the infrastructure for renewable energy would take time, and would require some gas in the nuclear as well as the transition.
Dixon stressed, “We just need systems thinkers. And we need to stop these short-term, knee-jerk reactions to both geopolitics and how we actually transition toward low-carbon energy. Can’t continue to work like this. We have to create the right infrastructure. We need to think about what it looks like. We need the right capital inflows. We need both the public sector and the private sector in terms of investment. Correct signal is required.
The new European Energy Strategy and the recommendations of the Energy Transition Commission next week will show how serious they are about accelerating this widespread transition. Maybe it will provide guidance to the US as well.
This may be one of the biggest unintended consequences of Vladimir Putin’s invasion, and one that will hit him and Russia economically and politically for years to come, perhaps in the decades to come – but it will affect the planet in the process. will benefit.