Representatives of EU countries have intensified their meetings with the aim of returning to peace and increasing energy independence as Russia has decided to “punish” the bloc for its support of Ukraine. EURACTIV France reports.
Supply insecurity, particularly of Russian gas and oil, is one of the consequences of Russia’s war against Ukraine.
Not only is it pushing the pro-Ukrainian European Union to fight for energy independence, but also to continue its fight against global warming.
“Energy security, economic security, national security, climate security: all these forms of security are inseparable. They are inextricably linked and they all require an acceleration of the transition to clean energy,” US Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm told a ministerial meeting held by the International Energy Agency (IEA) held on 23-24 March in Paris.
“This transition to clean energy may well be the peace project of our time. Peace always comes after battle. So let’s devote ourselves to this project for peace, the commitment and the resources of a war effort. This is our Marshall Plan,” said Granholm, who called those fighting in Ukraine an “army of fighters for the climate”.
Climate – a potential victim of Russian aggression
The EU is thus fighting on all fronts for its security. The climate – no longer defended only by climate activists or environmental players – has now become a tool for the strategic autonomy of states and a vector of peace for Europeans.
However, some fear that countries seeking to free themselves from Russian gas and oil may quickly return to fossil fuels, only from other destinations, which could put on hold transition to clean energy, the long-term answer to climate change.
“It is absolutely crucial that states act so that we can maintain a supply of electricity. But that doesn’t mean we have to put an end to our efforts to fight climate change,” said IEA Director Fatih Birol. “We must ensure that climate ambition does not fall victim to Russian aggression,” he added.
The international agency has already presented several options for exiting energy dependencies on Russian gas and oil. The recommendations for gas invite countries to accelerate the deployment of renewable energies, to consider nuclear energy and work on energy efficiency.
The EU is working in this direction through the REPowerEU plan recently outlined by the European Commission.
“Energy policy is also a security policy. With REPowerEU, we have paved the way forward,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said on Twitter.
From a climate perspective, REPowerEU has its limitation though. In the short term, the plan indeed proposes replacing part of the EU’s consumption of Russian pipeline gas with liquefied natural gas (LNG), a more polluting source of energy. And coal is another non-decarbonised option considered by member states like Germany and the Czech Republic to replace part of the Russian gas used in power generation.
Although the European Green Deal’s objective of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 55% by 2030 is not being called into question by the EU, the path will nevertheless be more complex than expected.
Energy independence is currently of such strategic importance that the IEA has asked to extend its mandate in order to work on the supply “for critical minerals”.
“In addition to working, as we traditionally do, on the security of oil and gas supply, I ask ministers to give a new mandate to the IEA so that it can help countries guarantee a reliable and sustainable supply for critical minerals such as lithium, cobalt, copper, nickel and rare earths, which are so important for the transition to clean energies,” said Birol.
Birol’s request was granted during the ministerial meeting of the IEA.
[Edited by Zoran Radosavljevic]