Infotech For European sovereignty in terms of climate and energy

For European sovereignty in terms of climate and energy

While the emergency summit on energy convened by the Czech presidency is due to open on September 9, the positions of European leaders are gradually beginning to change.

They are increasingly aware that, as is probably intended by Moscow, the sharp rise in energy prices and, beyond that, in the cost of living, will make them unable to impose more severe sanctions on Russia as it continues its cruel war against Ukraine through the fall. Governments are slowly realizing that the chaos Putin is wreaking on European energy supplies – under the guise of disagreement over contracts or pipeline maintenance – will not subside until EU states will not begin to react and resist collectively.

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But this awareness will not be enough. There is now a need for political foresight about the scale of the crisis facing Europe, and the need for Europe to plan together for next winter and beyond, in order to withstand to the multi-faceted security threat we face.

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Rather than looking at rising national energy costs in isolation, European citizens need their leaders to be honest and insightful about the bigger picture. Europe is not currently a player in the geopolitical game of Putin’s war: we are a toy, our choices are confiscated from us.

When Germany pushes its ally Canada to circumvent its own sanctions in order to repair the Nordstream 1 gas pipeline to maintain Russian gas supplies, as we saw in July, Europe is not sovereign.

When European governments are putting all their emergency funds into bolstering their fossil fuel supplies for the winter, replacing exactly what they imported from Russia, Europe cannot be said to be sovereign either.

When European leaders are afraid to make more long-term strategic choices, to invest in a sustainable energy security plan, to rapidly develop the renewable energy sector as foreseen in the RePowerEU strategy published in May, we are not Kings.

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And this lack of sovereignty goes far beyond that.

Break the addiction

If European leaders go to COP27 in Sharm el-Sheikh in November having backtracked on their decarbonisation targets, their claim to lead by example on global climate will be shattered. If we cannot, at the very least, stick to the commitments we have set ourselves to respect the Paris agreement, we will have no hope of bridging the gap of trust with the countries of the South that has climate finance, debt relief and vaccine nationalism, and the global zero carbon goal will be seriously undermined. The array of global warming-induced emergencies in 2022 alone highlights the implications of a lack of firmness on our climate goals for the future of humanity.

All is not lost. Provided that we are clear that the deep crisis in which the EU finds itself is not only the result of a lack of solidarity, as is often said, but that it is a crisis security in the truest sense of the word.

By inviting European businesses and consumers to limit their energy consumption in order to save for the winter, we are not asking them to “do what is required”, but rather to protect themselves. Planning and saving together is a means to an end: allowing the EU to break its dependence on a devious adversary trying to change the global system of a rule-based order. rules towards a world of every man for himself. This is the only way to keep the European Green Deal on track, keeping the space needed to invest not just in fuels “dirty” but also to rapidly increase the EU’s renewable energy capacity.

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“End of abundance”: but what sobriety is the government talking about?

EU leaders should strive to achieve three things at the September 9 emergency energy summit to ensure EU energy sovereignty.

  • First of all, a collective agreement on the need to put decarbonization and energy efficiency at the heart of our energy transition, across Europe, between governments, industry and consumers. Different narratives cannot coexist within EU borders. Leaders must be clear that we will not get away with this without action in all sectors of European society. There must be a willingness to share the political cost of this message across all government coalitions within European nations.
  • Second, a common energy resilience plan for this winter, with Member States planning together and sharing their supplies. The objective of the European Council last July, namely a 15% reduction in gas demand this winter, was a positive step, but the disparity of national efforts, in terms of follow-up, suggests the need for a change approach radical. The EU must strategically consider collective European resources for this winter, before likely shortages occur, to prevent ad hoc demands from one member state to another becoming politicized and further divisive . This scenario is part of Moscow’s strategy with occasional gas supply cuts to EU states, and the EU must counter this strategy through joint planning.
  • Third, the large current benefits of electricity produced from clean sources in the EU, are not invested in increasing wind, solar and hydrogen capacity due to permit delays and insufficient premiums. EU leaders must step up their national plans to achieve their goals set out in the RePower EU strategy to massively and rapidly increase renewable energy production. Investment and planning must match the magnitude of the current crisis.

The EU has now reached its “whatever it takes” moment on the Putin-manipulated energy crisis. Fortunately, the way forward is clear. EU governments must now show the political courage to follow this path.

Susi Dennison, organic express

Susie Dennison directs the European Power program at the European Council for International Relations (ECFR).

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