EU plan to boost renewable energy to get rid of Russian fossil fuels will help fight climate change, experts say

EU plan to boost renewable energy to get rid of Russian fossil fuels will help fight climate change, experts say

In an effort to end its import of Russian fossil fuels by 2027, the European Commission will boost renewable energy production and efficiency, according to a Bloomberg News report, a move that experts say could benefit to the fight against climate change.

On May 18, the European Union’s executive will propose to increase its clean energy target for 2030 from 40% of its total energy production to 45%, and it will also ask member states to reduce their consumption of electricity. energy by 13% over the decade, up from the currently required 9% decline.

Experts in European energy policy and international climate policy say that these measures, while leading to only small reductions in greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change, do part of a positive evolution of dependence on fossil fuels.

Wind turbines compete with a coal-fired power plant near Erkelenz, Germany

Wind turbines compete with a coal-fired power plant near Erkelenz, Germany. (Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

“In the long run, this will be beneficial for emissions and cost,” Ana Maria Jaller-Makarewicz, energy analyst for Europe at the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis, told Yahoo News. . “We cannot continue with this volatile market.”

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the resulting price spike, Jaller-Makarewicz said, “showed Europe how volatile the price and supply of gas is.”

Jaller-Makarewicz and others have warned that while Europe hopes to boost its clean energy goals, it also plans to replace Russian natural gas with liquefied natural gas, or LNG, from the United States and the United States. Middle East. Since LNG has a higher carbon footprint than conventional gas due to the energy needs of liquefaction and transportation, this will offset some of the climate benefits of clean energy and efficiency improvements.

But experts also note that the EU is trying to avoid committing to locking in infrastructure and long-term fossil fuel supplies that would prevent it from achieving its goal of reducing carbon emissions enough to avoid a change. catastrophic climate. For example, Reuters reported earlier this week that Germany was struggling to negotiate a deal to buy LNG from Qatar because Qatar wanted a commitment of at least 20 years. Germany hopes to reduce its emissions by 88% by 2040, so it intends to no longer need imported natural gas for power and heating over the next two decades.

“The reality is more positive, but it’s a little mixed,” Jake Schmidt, senior strategic director for international climate at the Natural Resources Defense Council, told Yahoo News. “The EU is trying to wean itself off Russian gas fairly quickly, but it’s not giving up on its climate goals, which is good. So what they’re looking at is, “How could we build short-term infrastructure to move our gas supplies?” They’re trying to do that in a way that doesn’t lock them into infrastructure that’s worthless from a long-term climate perspective.

PCK Oil Refinery

Germany’s PCK refinery, majority-owned by Russian energy company Rosneft, processes oil from Russia via the Druzhba pipeline. (Hannibal Hanschke/Getty Images)

European nations are doing this in two ways, Schmidt said: they are leaning towards building floating LNG import terminals offshore, less permanent than onshore structures, and they are trying to build them in such a way that they can be replaced by their use for From LNG to Hydrogen in the future.

“They clearly recognize, in the short and long term, [the need] to double down on their climate strategy,” Schmidt said. It takes two to five years to build an LNG import terminal, which is longer than to build a new wind or solar farm.

Currently, oil and gas consumers around the world are paying record prices. In addition to cutting emissions and taking money from Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war chest at a time when he invaded Ukraine and threatens other countries in Europe, the EU believes its next plan energy transition will allow consumers to save money on gas. Bloomberg reported that its sources estimate a total annual saving of 80 billion euros on gas, 12 billion euros on oil and 1.7 billion euros on coal.

Skeptics may nevertheless fear that renewable energy mandates will increase the price of electricity. Wind and solar power are increasingly competitive with gas and cheaper than coal, but some studies have shown that renewable portfolio standards raise energy prices by forcing utilities to invest in new wind and solar installations before their existing coal or gas power. the plants would otherwise have to be replaced.

High fuel prices at a Shell service station in Wales

High petrol prices, seen here at a Shell station in Wales, are hitting UK consumers hard. (Matthew Horwood/Getty Images)

However, most experts are confident that falling prices and other moves across Europe, such as streamlining renewables licensing processes, will make the EU’s plan to increase renewables a reality. cheaper than importing increasingly expensive fossil fuels.

“This is an important step in eventually completing this transition that they’re trying to move into as quickly as possible to completely get rid of fossil fuels and addiction,” said Pete Ogden, vice president for energy, climate and environment at the United Nations Foundation. told Yahoo News. “They’re going to find the alternatives more and more economically attractive.”


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