Europe to Significantly Cut Imports of Russian Fossil Fuels
Nearly two weeks after Russia began its invasion into Ukraine, EU leaders have agreed to phase out Russian gas, oil, and coal to gain independence from the Kremlin. On Tuesday, Reuters reported that the European Commission published plans to do so "well before 2030." The move will be a difficult one since nearly 45% of Europe's imported fossil fuels come from Russia. However, a shift toward clean energy could rescue Europe from its energy crisis while simultaneously lowering emissions and lessening the EU's dependence on Russia.
European Commission Vice-President Frans Timmermans thinks "given a correct revision towards renewables, [he is] confident we can find that soon Russia will be depending on us, and not the other way round."
France 24: EU leaders seek to escape Russian fossil fuels, March 10, 2022.
France 24: Ukraine crisis could be 'historic turning point' for European energy, IEA chief Birol says, February 24, 2022.
Why This Matters
A new order in Europe is quickly emerging. The Russian invasion is already significantly ramping up the EU's transition to clean renewable energy, and the demand for green alternatives such as wind and solar power is skyrocketing in the face of rising gas prices. The decision to cease the import of Russian fossil fuels means that Europe will need to find new energy sources fast. Part of the EU's plan to meet its energy needs is diversification of their renewable energy sources and acceleration of the Green Deal policy plan, which includes more ambitious emissions targets by 2030. Currently, the EU is discussing the potential of implementing the "Fit for 55" plan that would cut greenhouse gasses by 55% from 1990 levels and reduce EU gas consumption by 23% within the decade.
Renewable Energy Will Ensure Energy Independence in Europe
According to a new study, Vladimir Putin's invasion of Ukraine is being bolstered by GBP 217 million (USD 285 million) in payments for oil every day by EU countries. In the face of sanctions against the Kremlin, the war has underlined just how dependent European energy needs have been on Russia, and is prompting the EU to fast-track its plans to create energy independence.
Energy independence using renewable energy sources will, first and foremost, insulate the EU from any potential foreign retaliation, such as Russia's leverage over imported fossil fuels. And secondly, it will stabilize Europe's energy prices and bring security to their economy since energy would be produced domestically in solar or wind farms. Phasing out Russian oil, gas, and coal will induce a new era of sustainable and climate-friendly energy to the EU's power sector while ensuring a healthy economy and energy independence.
Still, Europe has a tough job ahead. While the United States committed to ban Russian imports yesterday, despite the pain it will cause at the pump, the country primarily relies on imported fossil fuels from neighboring democracies Mexico and Canada and Middle East ally Saudi Arabia. But, in some European countries, close to 70% of imported energy comes from Russia.
IEA: A 10-Point Plan to Reduce the European Union's Reliance on Russian Natural Gas, March 3, 2022.
ABC: Biden bans US imports of Russian oil, gas and coal, March 8, 2022.
DW: How Russia's war and international sanctions impact global energy and food security, March 3, 2022.
Yahoo Finance: Russia-Ukraine war 'will accelerate' move to green hydrogen, renewable energy (Plug Power CEO), March 3, 2022.