This shift is most evident in Europe, which is heavily dependent on imported Russian energy to turn on the lights and heat and is experiencing a steady rise in energy prices. The new conflict, and escalating sanctions and the scrapping of pipeline projects in response, have raised concerns that additional planned price hikes could cause supply shortages next winter.
“We must become independent of Russian oil, coal and gas,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said in a statement on Monday. “We simply cannot rely on suppliers who clearly threaten us. We need to act now to mitigate the impact of rising energy prices, diversify our gas supply next winter and accelerate the clean energy transition.
The European Commission recently unveiled a plan for how Russia will transition away from fossil fuels before 2030, which includes a near-term push to increase energy efficiency with a long-term shift away from fossil fuels to find fossil fuel alternatives to Russian gas imports. Renewable energy fuels in line with the region’s existing climate plans.
“I see this as an important step in promoting the decarbonization of the European economy,” Andreas Goldthau, an energy transition expert at the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies, told BuzzFeed News via email.
The commission’s modeling “that two-thirds of Russia’s gas will be replaced within a year through those measures alone seems very ambitious to me,” Goldthau said. He later added: “At current prices, this represents a significant cost to industry and households, and perhaps too high a cost for some.”
Meanwhile, on Monday, President Joe Biden announced that the US would immediately ban Russian energy imports, another layer of economic sanctions to punish the country for its attack on Ukraine.
“We are moving forward on this moratorium, understanding that many of our European allies and partners may not be in a position to join us,” Biden said, adding that US domestic oil production gives the country flexibility that Europe does not have.
But with extensive fossil fuel production at home, the US is not immune to dramatic fluctuations in energy prices set by global energy markets. As of Thursday, gas prices reached a national average of $4.31 a gallon (adjusted for inflation, the record price for gas was $5.53 a gallon, set in 2008). Biden’s solution to prevent this problem from recurring is similar to Europe’s: embracing clean energy.
“To protect our economy in the long term, we must become energy independent,” Biden said. “This should motivate us to accelerate the transition to clean energy.”