In Russia-Ukraine Conflict, Climate Change Resolutions Take on National Security Implications

In Russia-Ukraine Conflict, Climate Change Resolutions Take on National Security Implications

The immediate transition away from Russian oil is among the many pressures European leaders face due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. But that move might end up putting climate change resolutions at risk. At the beginning of the conflict, many were optimistic that the crisis could accelerate the EU’s transition toward green energy, but it appears now that politicians may opt for quick and dirty solutions that could drive emissions even higher.

"Politicians will always make sure your gas tank is full and your lights will stay on. They will do anything during a crisis to make it happen,” said Robbie Diamond, the president and ceo of Securing America’s Energy Future, a nonprofit group that advocates for green transportation.

Fossil fuels from other nations are still the quickest replacement, and the US has stepped up. As reported by NBC last week, President Joe Biden resumed leasing federal lands for oil and gas drilling. In March, the administration released oil from the country’s strategic reserve, and the president promised to get more tankers filled with liquified natural gas to Europe.

IEA: A 10-Point Plan to Reduce the European Union's Reliance on Russian Natural Gas, March 3, 2022.

Why This Matters

Energy independence is becoming an increasingly important geopolitical asset in a climate-changed world. Many international groups, including the Red Cross, have called for carefully assessing climate change as a national security threat. European leaders have already put sanctions on Russian oil and are considering an embargo after Putin admitted that the sanctions had hurt the Russian Energy Sector.

Yet even transitioning to electricity could be risky. At this time, China is the producer of every electric vehicle battery. According to Diamond, it is paramount that we "ensure the solutions for the long-term problems don’t create a dependence on an authoritarian regime.”

WW0: General Stan McCrystal and John Kerry Instagram Live conversation on national security and the climate crisis, October 27, 2020.

WW0: Facebook Live conversation on national security, climate migration and the climate crisis, September 9, 2020.

Is Nuclear Next?

Over the years, several countries have been shutting down or planning shut-downs of their nuclear power plants because of the risks involved. But, according to Trevor Houser, a partner at the Rhodium Group, European leaders are beginning to reconsider. Belgium has postponed decommissioning two nuclear power plants, France said it would build more, Germany is reconsidering its position, and the UK has proposed nuclear power to decarbonize its defense sector.

Third Way: Why We Need To Save Our Nuclear Power Plants, February 3, 2022.

ASP: How the United Kingdom is Decarbonizing Defense & Adapting to Climate Change, February 1, 2022.