Can Europe quit Russian oil – and go green in the process?
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What is happening
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine prompted the United States and its allies to impose harsh sanctions designed to isolate Russia from the global economy. While these sanctions dealt a heavy blow to Russia’s financial system, they focused on the country’s most important industries: oil and gas.
These exemptions show how deeply dependent the West has become on Russian energy exports, which provide about and a quarter of its crude oil. Governments have warned that stopping the flow of Russian fossil fuels could send global energy prices skyrocketing – a shock that would be particularly damaging to European countries, which were before the start of the war.
The crisis in Ukraine has highlighted for many world leaders the importance of severing their energy relationship with Russia. Germany, for example, in view of the invasion. European Union energy commissioner Kadri Simson said on Monday that adding that it was not wise to “let a third country destabilize our energy markets or influence our energy choices”.
Why there is debate
Ending or significantly reducing Europe’s dependence on Russian oil and gas would represent a major shift in the global energy market, but experts are divided on whether this disruption would be a step forward or a setback for the green energy transition that is necessary to fight against the worst. effects of climate change.
Optimists hope that European countries, which have already made aggressive decarbonization commitments, will double their investments in renewable energy to fill the energy gap created by a drop in Russian imports. Others say the invasion creates powerful new political ground for the green energy push, since proponents can now argue it’s needed to bolster national security and global stability — in addition to the far-reaching environmental benefits. documented.
But skeptics fear that the pressure to keep energy prices from skyrocketing is pushing countries to seek out all available fossil fuels to meet their energy needs – including coal, which as natural gas. It is also possible that other oil-exporting countries, including the United States, will increase production to meet growing European demand, they say. And there are fears that the isolation of the Russian economy will make it more difficult to acquire the materials needed to produce green energy sources and that it will be more difficult to put pressure on Russia – the around the world — to decarbonize its own economy.
It is possible that the continued assault on Ukraine will prompt Western countries to impose direct sanctions on the Russian fossil fuel industry in the near future. “Nothing is on the table” On Wednesday, asked about a possible US ban on Russian oil.
Russia’s Invasion Creates a Whole New Logic for the Green Energy Revolution
“While we talk about the low cost of renewables and how quickly energy storage is dropping, that hasn’t been enough when it appears that ‘only’ the climate is at stake. Now European sovereignty is at stake.” — Daniel Kammen, energy researcher, for
Nations and individuals will be more willing to make the sacrifices needed to switch to renewable energy
“A lot of the premium on gas prices right now is driven by uncertainty – not knowing what Russian President Vladimir Putin might do next. …Ripping the band-aid off now would take uncertainty off the table. This would mean accelerating many of the investments that would have to be made anyway. All of this comes with significant up-front costs to ratepayers, shareholders and ratepayers.” —Gernot Wagner,
Fossil fuel burning may increase in the short term, but over time green energy will thrive
“We may need, for the remaining weeks of this winter, to secure gas supplies to Europe, but by next winter we need to remove that leverage. That means a full effort to decarbonize this continent, then ours. It’s not impossible.” —Bill McKibben,
High fossil fuel prices make renewable alternatives more attractive
Without Russian gas, countries will be forced to accelerate their transition to renewable energy
“Gas was already, at best, a short-term ‘transition technology’ intended to keep Europe between phasing out coal and oil (the dirtiest fossil fuels) and fully adopting renewables. . We can now drop the gas sooner than expected. —Paul Hockenos,
Soaring energy prices will create pressure on countries to step up the burning of fossil fuels
“High energy prices also provide water for those who argue that the costs of transitioning to net zero represent an additional and unnecessary burden at a time when many households and businesses are struggling to pay their bills. energy. … In an age of inflation and cost-of-living pressures around the world, their arguments will find a ready audience.—Mark Nicholls,
Nations could prioritize fossil fuels to achieve energy independence as soon as possible
“The renewed emphasis on energy independence and national security may encourage policymakers to backtrack on efforts to reduce the use of fossil fuels that pump deadly greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.” —Patricia Cohen,
Europe has few viable alternatives to Russian fossil fuels
“The flexibility is there, but each of the options is worse than just burning Russian gas; otherwise, we wouldn’t have burned Russian gas in the first place. — Georg Zachmann, Energy Sector Analyst, for
Building the future of green energy will be more difficult without Russia
“Existing plans to move away from fossil fuels rely heavily on siting new sources of power generation and producing consumer electric vehicles – activities that will require a lot of the metal that Russia produces.” — Jael Holzman,
Hopes of convincing Russia to cut emissions have grown even dimmer
“Any potential for greater climate engagement with Russia ahead of the next major climate meeting in Egypt later this year is discounted for now. This is a setback for international climate efforts, given the role of Russia among the top five greenhouse gas emitters in the world.—Ellie Martus and Susan Harris Rimmer,
Green alternatives will take too long to meet Europe’s immediate energy needs
“Western countries, including the United States, should follow France’s example and expand or restart their nuclear programs. But there should be no illusions about how long such an effort will take (or how much it will cost) to make a difference. It’s not a quick fix and, incidentally, it’s not about doubling down on renewables either. … The best solution at the moment is to encourage increased oil and gas production from existing and new fields on both sides of the Atlantic. —Andrew Stuttaford
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