Russia’s war in Ukraine: Why doubling down on the Green Deal is the best strategy

(EurActiv, 10 Mar 2022) As EU leaders meet in Versaille, energy is set to be a key topic. But leaders must ensure that the decisions they make to break away from Russian energy push the EU in the direction of sustainability, argue European sustainability think tanks.

This commentary is co-signed by members of the Think Sustainable Europe network. The full list of signatories is at the bottom.

The world has changed drastically in a matter of days, and in Europe, these changes are set to reshape the entire nature and ethos of the European project.

As Russia’s invasion of Ukraine continues to take a heavy toll, the heads of state and government gathering in Versailles today and tomorrow (10-11 March) will need to take actions that support Ukraine while also shoring up the bloc’s own strategic autonomy from Moscow.

The European Green Deal will be crucial for the success of this strategy.

  1. The lasting impact of emergency decisions on the European Green Deal

Firstly, EU leaders are facing emergency decisions that stand to have lasting effects on the implementation of the Green Deal, especially when it comes to energy policy.

There is now a far greater need for the bloc to decarbonise its energy systems and reduce its reliance on imported oil and gas from Russia.

However, making this shift happen in the immediate future presents enormous risks. Short-term measures, such as finding alternative fossil fuel suppliers and products that can fulfil immediate energy needs, might create detrimental lock-in effects.

In this context, the call by European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen to accelerate the decarbonisation of the energy system is highly welcome.

To make Europe more independent and resilient, it will be key to proceed with Fit for 55 negotiations, accelerate industrial transformation, retain a focus on medium and long-term strategies and have clear phase-out clauses for emergency measures that might go against Europe’s carbon neutrality.

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EurActiv, 10 Mar 2022: Russia’s war in Ukraine: Why doubling down on the Green Deal is the best strategy