Russia’s conflict in Ukraine is reshaping the climate debate

Just three months ago, world leaders met in Climate Summit in Glasgow and make ambitious commitments to reduce fossil fuel use. The dangers of a warming planet today are no less disastrous, but the debate about extremely important transition to renewable energy has stepped back into the field of energy security as Russia – Europe’s largest energy supplier – threatens to start a major confrontation with the West. Ukraine while oil prices are climbing 100 dollars a barrel.

Lucia van Geuns, strategic energy consultant at The Hague Center for Strategic Studies. Now, it’s the opposite.

“Gasoline prices have skyrocketed, and the sudden safety of supply and prices has become a major topic of public debate,” she said.

New emphasis on energy independence and National security could encourage policymakers to support efforts to reduce the use of fossil fuels that pump deadly greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

Soaring prices have spurred the production and consumption of more fuels that contribute to global warming. Import of coal into the European Union in January was up more than 56 percent year over year.

In the UK, the Coal Authority gave mine in Wales Last month allowed to increase production by 40 million tons over the next two decades. In Australia, there are plans to open or expand further coke mine. And China, which has traditionally made energy security a priority, has further stepped up coal production and approved three new multi-billion dollar coal mines this week.

Increase your rig count“Jennifer Granholm, US Secretary of Energy, said in December, calling on US oil producers to increase their output. Shale Company in Oklahoma, Colorado and other states are looking to revive drilling operations that have been shut down because of sudden money. And this month, Exxon Mobil announced plans to increase spending on new oil wells and other projects.

Ian Goldin, a professor of globalization and development at the University of Oxford, warns that high energy prices could lead to more extraction of traditional fossil fuels. “Governments will want to get rid of renewables and sustainable energy, which is exactly the wrong response,” he said.

Europe’s transition to sustainable energy has always been a complicated calculus, requiring the country to move away from the dirtiest fossil fuels like coal, while still partnering with oil and gas producers. burning to power homes, cars and factories until better alternatives are available.

Because Germany, Russia’s dependence on gas has been an integral part of the country’s environmental plan for many years. Plans for the first direct pipeline between the two countries, Nord Stream 1, began in 1997. At the forefront of its push to reduce carbon emissions, Berlin has moved to close coal mines and nuclear power plants. human, after the 2011 disaster in Fukushima nuclear plant In Japan. The idea is that Russian gas will provide the fuel needed during a years-long transition to cleaner energy sources. Two-thirds of the gas Germany burned last year came from Russia.

Future plans call for more gas to be delivered through Nord Stream 2A new 746-mile pipeline under the Baltic Sea connects Russia directly to northeastern Germany.

On Tuesday, after President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia recognized the two breakaway republics in Ukraine and mobilized forces, Prime Minister Olaf Scholz of Germany has paused final regulatory review for the $11 billion pipeline, which was completed last year.

“I don’t think the threat from Russia is greater than the threat of climate change, and I don’t see coal mines,” said James Nixey, director of the Russia-Eurasia program at Chatham House, a research organization. opening up across Europe. in London.

Certainly, the path to energy conversion has never been clear. Five climate summits have taken place in the past 30 years, and progress has always been unsatisfactory. This latest setback may just be the latest in a long string of measures and halfway failures.

However, without a more comprehensive strategy to phase out gas on its own, Europe will not be able to meet its goal of reducing emissions by 55% by 2030 from 1990 levels, or meet the EU’s target. The Glasgow summit is to cut net greenhouse gases to zero by 2050.

As Mr. Nixey admits, “this debate is changing” as leaders are forced to acknowledge the downsides of Russia’s energy dependence.

Even in Germany, where progressive Greens have had a more influential voice in government, the tone has changed.

This month, Robert Habeck, Germany’s new minister for the economy and climate change and a member of the Green Party, said the events highlighted the need to diversify supplies. “We need to act here and make ourselves better,” he said. “Otherwise, we’ll become a pawn in the game.”

Energy prices started to rise before Putin began massing troops on Ukraine’s eastern border, as countries emerged from the pandemic shutdown and skyrocketing demand.

But as Putin vehemently opposes Ukraine and energy prices rise further, the political and strategic vulnerabilities caused by Russia’s control of so much of Europe’s supplies take center stage.

“Europe is quite dependent on Russian gas and oil, and this is not sustainable,” said Sarah E. Mendelson, head of Heinz College in Washington. She added that the United States and its European allies have not focused enough on energy independence in recent years.

Overall, Europe is okay more than a third of natural gas and 25% of oil come from Russia. Deliveries have slowed significantly in recent months, while inventories in Europe have fallen to just 31% of capacity.

To critics of the European Union’s climate policies, the sudden focus on greenhouse gas emissions and on existing fuel reserves is attesting.

Arkadiusz Siekaniec, vice-president of the Federation of Miners in Poland, has long argued that the European Union’s push to end coal production on the continent is folly. But now he hopes that others can follow his point.

Mr. Siekaniec said climate policy “is a suicide mission” that could make the entire region too dependent on Russian fuel last week when US troops landed in his country. “It threatens the economy as well as the citizens of Europe and Poland.”

For Mateusz Garus, a blacksmith at Jankowice, a coal mine in Upper Silesia, the heart of the coal country, it is politics not climate change that is driving policy. “We will destroy the electricity industry and we will depend on other countries like Russia,” he said. Russia’s conflict in Ukraine is reshaping the climate debate

Fry Electronics Team

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