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EU Out of Gas!

On Tuesday, the European Union agreed to cut gas use in case Russia halts supplies but some countries will have exemptions to avoid rationing. EU members have now agreed to voluntarily reduce 15% of gas use between August and March. However, the deal was watered down after previously not having exemptions.

The Russian state gas monopoly said in a letter dated July 14 that it was retroactively declaring force majeure on supplies from June 14. The news comes as Nord Stream 1, the key pipeline delivering Russian gas to Germany and beyond, is undergoing 10 days of annual maintenance scheduled to conclude on Thursday. But the real reason is Russia is punishing European nations for supporting Ukraine against their attempt to invade and make Ukraine a part of the Russian Federation.

Europe fears the suspension of deliveries could be extended beyond the 10-day timeline, derailing the region’s winter supply preparations and exacerbating a gas crisis that has prompted skyrocketing energy bills for households and emergency measures from policymakers. European governments are racing to fill underground storage with gas supplies to provide households with enough fuel during winter.

The gap caused by Russia has forced Europe to seek alternatives to gas in order to deal with the decrease in supply caused by Russia’s self proclaimed inability to supply the fuel. Many European nations are afraid of the economic effects this will have if the winter is extremely cold. European infrastructure and global supply have coped, so far, with a 60 percent drop in Russian gas deliveries since June 2021

Most European Union countries have boosted their renewable plans since 2020, putting them on course to cut fossil fuel use as the energy and COVID-19 crises have spurred their green transition. This current Russian tactic will also speed up the transition and make it a priority for many nations that see the reality of embracing renewable energy as essential to their sovereignty and survival. They know that, if they fail to transform their economies and societies to promote ambitious climate action globally, it will become much harder to maintain their economies. No EU government can claim that climate change has taken it by surprise. The impact of increasing global temperatures on agricultural output, weather-related natural disasters, and migration and conflict patterns has been increasingly visible and costly.

Europe’s benchmark power price has doubled in 2022, to 100 euros per megawatt-hour, for the first time ever. On an annual basis, this implies Europeans would pay 150 billion euros ($176.7 billion) more for their electricity in the midst of a natural-gas supply crunch and a lack of renewable power sourced from wind amid inclement weather. Europeans are becoming acutely aware of the potential for social unrest during the long-term shift to cleaner energy, but the public is starting to understand things could be even worse if they don’t make the switch!

There is an urgency to transform Europe's energy system: ending the EU's dependence on Russian fossil fuels, which are used as an economic and political weapon and cost European taxpayers nearly €100 billion per year, and tackling the climate crisis. By uniting for a common goal, Europe can phase out its dependency on Russian fossil fuels faster. 85% of Europeans believe that the EU should reduce its dependency on Russian gas and oil as soon as possible.


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