Natural gas supply cuts by Russia is a wake-up call to Europe to strengthen energy efficiency and renewable energy efforts
Posted on 07 January 2009
The recent shut-off of natural gas supplies by Russia's gas monopoly Gazprom is strongly undermining the public European trust in an otherwise reliable trade partner. It will also cause major recasts on the EU's energy security which is highly dependent on fossil fuels imports from Russia. It’s time for the EU to invest in domestic clean energy sources and improve energy efficiency, says WWF.Brussels, Belgium - The recent shut-off of natural gas supplies by Russia's gas monopoly Gazprom is strongly undermining the public European trust in an otherwise reliable trade partner. It will also cause major recasts on the EU's energy security which is highly dependent on fossil fuels imports from Russia.
It’s time for the EU to invest in domestic clean energy sources and improve energy efficiency, says WWF.
WWF is not judging as to whether and how the conflict between Ukraine and Russia on gas supplies and gas prices is justified, but strongly believes that the EU’s dependency needs to stop - and can be overcome by ambitious measures to save energy and boost renewable energies and low-carbon technologies.
The EU is importing about 100 million tons of oil equivalents of natural gas from Russia each year, about one quarter of total natural gas consumption in the EU. So far, comparably clean natural gas has been broadly supported by WWF as a logical mid-term alternative to high-polluting coal in the power sector and oil in the heating sector.
"The Russian gas policy is highly risky as it fully undermines the public confidence in this low-carbon fossil fuel. Its time to reconsider the role for natural gas as a bridging fuel to sustainable energy", said Stephan Singer, WWF International Director of Energy Policy in Brussels.
"We cannot promote a fuel anymore which is used as a weapon by some countries and certain corporations against consumers".
Instead, WWF strongly supports immediate legislation on energy efficiency in buildings and the promotion of renewable energies in the power sector. Europe is presently reviewing the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive, aiming at reducing energy consumption of all buildings across the EU.
"This is a splendid opportunity to reduce energy use by about the same amount as EU’s gas import from Russia ", said Arianna Vitali, WWF's Policy Officer for Energy Conservation in Buildings.
"In the long term with strong energy requirements for buildings we can reduce dependence from fossil fuels even much more and also cut CO2 emissions by 460 million tons per year - which is about ten percent of EU's total climate pollution".
In the power sector, WWF promotes a strong move to large scale renewable energy.
"This natural gas crisis shall not become a field day for perceived secure electricity fuels such as coal and nuclear. It is a huge opportunity for the EU now to develop substantive domestic clean energy sources such as offshore wind, solar power and clean biomass rather than relying on natural gas as a bridging fuel." added Singer.
Note to the editors
As reported in the analysis, “U-values for a better performance of buildings” published by Eurima in November 2007 whilst buildings account for 40% of all carbon dioxide emissions in the EU, simple measures such as roof and wall insulation have the potential to reduce emissions by 460 million tonnes a year.
For further information:
Stephan Singer, Director of Energy Policy, WWF International
Tel: +32 2 743 88 17
Mobile: +32 496 550 709
Arianna Vitali, Policy Officer for Energy Conservation in Buildings, WWF European Policy Office
Tel: +32 2 743 88 16
Stefania Campogianni, Press Officer, WWF European Policy Office
Tel: +32 2 743 88 15
Mobile: +32 499 539 736