Europe’s climate and energy strategy has become disturbingly bipolar

(EurActiv, 18 Jul 2022) Brussels is pursuing overambitious and costly decarbonisation policies while national capitals are desperate to guarantee the necessary energy supply and struggle to keep gas storages full and the lights on, writes Dimitar Lilkov.

At first glance, the EU’s climate agenda is in full swing. The European Parliament finally reached an internal compromise on the reform of the Emissions Trading System (ETS) and the forthcoming carbon border tax (CBAM).

In parallel, the European Commission (EC) has tabled an ambitious plan for ending the EU’s dependence on Russian fossil fuels through a mix of diversification of supply and energy savings. Even the divisive taxonomy on sustainable finance got the final nod.

Take your eyes away from wishful EU communications, however, and you’ll find that the situation on the ground is turning sour. European capitals are struggling to cope with one of the most disruptive energy crises in the history of the Union. In less than a year, electricity wholesale prices have doubled and sometimes even tripled across the continent, while gas spot and crude oil prices are reaching record highs.

In a matter of months Italy, Spain, France and Germany have each spent between 30bn and 40bn in order to soften the blow for households and industry. Gazprom has completely cut off or substantially reduced natural gas supplies to at least a dozen EU countries, which makes politicians fret about energy rationing in the winter. Germany has already begun limiting hot water, dimming street lights and appealing to citizens to preserve energy.

Boosted imports of LNG from alternative sources are vital, but our own terminal infrastructure and global supply remain limited. In anticipation of an energy disaster, national governments are quietly burning more coal and re-opening dirty power plants across Europe.

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EurActiv, 18 Jul 2022: Europe’s climate and energy strategy has become disturbingly bipolar