How Europe could undermine Vladimir Putin’s plan to hold energy hostage

European leaders have considered several ways they can undermine Vladimir Putin’s efforts to hold the continent hostage for energy amid the ongoing war in Ukraine.

Russia gave the European Union (EU) an ultimatum earlier this month and said its Nord Stream 1 pipeline would not resume until sanctions against the country were lifted.

EU leaders have joined with other nations in condemning the Russian invasion of Ukraine and have issued several crippling sanctions against key Kremlin-backed individuals and against the country itself.

This week, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen hit Moscow and said she was “actively manipulating the gas market”, but insisted that the continent would “diversify away from Russian fossil fuels”.

Vladimir Putin and Ursula von der Leyen. The EU is trying to reduce its dependence on Russian gas.
Getty

In March, President Joe Biden and von der Leyen announced a joint task force to reduce Europe’s dependence on Russian fossil fuels and ensure Europe’s energy security.

The race is now in Europe to mitigate the looming energy crisis that leads some countries to experience winter blackouts or energy rationing.

According to the International Energy Agency, one way Europe could avoid crippling the costs of energy consumption would be by doubling the current global rate of improvement in energy intensity, which means improving energy efficiency, up to to 4%.

It could potentially avoid 95 exajoules – a measure of energy – a year of final energy consumption by the end of the decade compared to current rates. The equivalent of such a shift would be China’s annual energy consumption, and it could reduce global CO2 emissions by another 5 billion tons per year by 2030.

It would represent one-third of the overall emissions education efforts needed over this decade to get the world on the path to net zero emissions by mid-century, as outlined in the Net Zero Roadmap that the IEA published in 2021.

These efficiency efforts could lead to households saving up to $ 650 billion annually on energy bills by the end of the decade.

The amount of natural gas the world would avoid using would be four times what the EU imported from Russia in 2021.

This reduction could create 10 million new jobs in various sectors, including building adaptations to manufacturing and transport infrastructure.

In an IEA 10-point plan, 10 options were provided that could avoid the energy crisis in Europe.

First, leaders are encouraged not to sign new gas supply contracts with Russia as this could give the EU the opportunity to diversify its gas supply and reduce ‘take-or-pay’ levels for gas. Russian imports.

The IEA is also calling on EU leaders to replace Russian supplies with gas from various suppliers, including Norway, which would reduce its dependence on Moscow gas.

EU leaders have also been told to introduce minimum gas storage obligations to improve market resilience, although the IEA says higher requirements to fill storage in 2022 would increase gas demand and support prices.

Refocusing on new wind and solar projects could result in a reduction in gas consumption of 6 billion cubic meters (bcm).

According to the IEA, maximizing production from existing low-emission sources, such as nuclear power, would result in a reduction in the use of gas for electricity by 13 billion cubic meters.

The IEA said it takes short-term measures to protect vulnerable electricity consumers from high prices. It is estimated that doing so would reduce energy bills for consumers and make € 200 billion ($ 203 billion) available to help vulnerable groups.

By speeding up the replacement of gas boilers with heat pumps, the EU could reduce gas consumption for heating by another 2 billion cubic meters in one year.

Accelerating energy efficiency improvements in buildings and industry could reduce gas consumption for heating by another 2 billion cubic meters and reduce energy bills.

In a more direct appeal to consumers, the IEA asked consumers to lower the thermostat by 1 degree Celsius and said it would reduce gas demand by 10 billion cubic meters per year.

The IEA encouraged EU leaders to step up efforts to diversify and decarbonise as part of a long-term strategy that would reduce dependence on natural gas and reduce costly gas-intensive peak supply needs.

Danfoss, a global provider of advanced energy efficiency technologies, has also offered plans that could save Europeans € 12 billion ($ 12.18 billion) by upgrading 500 million energy-wasting radiators.

Talking with News weekKim Fausing, president and CEO of Danfoss, said the Russian invasion of Ukraine was an incentive to reduce gas and oil consumption, but stressed that it could not just be about producing green energy.

He said: “They will also be extremely expensive and more expensive than necessary. We need to achieve efficiency and we need to get behind it and start investing with the same passion we do.

“Because energy efficiency and renewables go hand in hand. If we do both, we can achieve those goals that are not easy to set, but we can achieve them. It’s feasible.”

He said how crucial it is for countries to work together and added: “There are so many low fruit and interesting steps we can take. But it’s just more intuitively difficult to see. From the big picture. It’s easy to understand the wind turbine, green energy, well Instead of touching your infrastructure, right?

“We have to make that happen if we are to achieve the Paris Agreement, the goals, right. And that’s what I hear all the time we do. And the news and the clarity is that this is not going to happen.

“It won’t happen if we don’t increase the efficiency in our system because we have to produce a lot of energy that we don’t actually need and that’s why we have this slogan to say that the best and greenest energy is the energy we don’t need. “.

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