The missing element of Europe’s energy and climate security policy

(EurActiv, 31 Jan 2022) The implementation of the energy and climate security policies in Europe calls for the introduction of new evidence-based policy instruments for monitoring the progress of member-states, such as an EU Energy Security Risks Index, write Ruslan Stefanov and Martin Vladimirov.

Ruslan Stefanov is Chief Economist, and Martin Vladimirov is the Director of the Energy and Climate Program at the Center for the Study of Democracy, a European public policy institute. They are co-authors of the Kremlin Playbook series, assessing the size and mechanisms of the Russian economic influence in Europe.

The climate and energy transition in Europe is meeting increasing geopolitical and geoeconomic headwinds amid rising global power competition. The gas and electricity crisis in Europe has become a stark reminder that the energy policy trilemma of achieving affordability, reliability of supply and environmental sustainability at the same time, is far from solved. The crisis has revealed how the over-reliance on fossil fuels imported from a few authoritarian states such as Russia could significantly increase climate and energy security risks and undermine the energy transition’s viability. It has also bolstered voices urging for the revision or even the halting of the European Green Deal. This would be wrong.

The European Green Deal is not the cause but the solution to the energy crisis. It should also be the cornerstone of the new European energy and climate security strategy. Yet, its implementation, despite generous funding from the Next Generation EU (more than 30% of the funds should be dedicated to energy transition policies and projects), will have to overcome the considerable headwinds of climate scepticism and opposition in EU societies, fueled by domestic and foreign political pressure. The political fallout from the current energy crisis and the spectre of energy outages in the winter would require strong political will to power through necessary reforms that maintain energy security without comprising the climate transition process.

In the Russian fossil fuel grip

European governments are not only struggling to guarantee a reliable and cheap supply of energy but are also failing to overcome a fossil fuel lock-in. Instead of leveraging the abundant EU funding to rid themselves of excessive dependence on imported fossil fuels, many European governments promote large-scale natural gas projects with dubious commercial viability.

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EurActiv, 31 Jan 2022: The missing element of Europe’s energy and climate security policy