This shift is most apparent in Europe, which relies heavily on imported Russian energy to keep lights and heating on and which is seeing steadily rising energy prices. The new conflict and the escalation of sanctions and abandoned pipeline plans in response, raised fears that further planned price hikes could trigger supply shortages as early as 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 a supplier that explicitly threatens us. We must act now to mitigate the impact of rising energy prices, diversify our gas supply for next winter, and accelerate the transition to clean energy.
The European Commission recently unveiled a plan to find out how the region could move away from Russian fossil fuels before 2030, involving a short-term push to find fossil fuel alternatives to Russia’s gas imports and maximize energy efficiency combined with a longer-term transition from fossil fuels to renewables in line with the region’s existing climate plans.
“I see this as an important step in promoting the decarbonisation of the European economy,” Andreas Goldthau, energy transition expert at the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies, told BuzzFeed News via email.
The commission’s modeling suggests something like “two-thirds of Russian gas will be replaced in one year just because of these measures, which seems very ambitious to me,” Goldthau said. He later added: “At current prices this would mean a significant cost to industry and households, and perhaps too high a cost for some”.
Meanwhile, also on Monday, President Joe Biden announced that the United States would immediately ban Russian energy importsyet another layer of economic sanctions intended to punish the country for its attack on Ukraine.
“We are moving forward with this ban knowing that many of our European allies and partners may not be able to join us,” he added. Biden saidnoting that US domestic oil production gives the country flexibility that Europe does not have.
But even with vast fossil fuel production at home, the United States is not immune to the dramatic swings in energy prices set by global energy markets. On Thursday, gasoline prices hit a national average $4.31 per gallon (inflation adjustedthe record gasoline price was $5.53 per gallon, set in 2008). Biden’s solution to prevent this problem from happening again is the same as Europe’s: embrace clean energy.
“To protect our economy for the long term, we need to become energy independent,” Biden said. “This should motivate us to accelerate the transition to clean energy.”