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European Commission Posits Additional €210B Needed to Phase Out Reliance on Russian Fossil Fuels

In the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the EU has remedied its already existing green energy plans to offset its reliance on Russian fossil fuels, like gas and oil. The plan, outlined on Wednesday, May 17th, via the European Commission, targets a five-year roadmap to install assorted green energy parameters, like wind turbines and solar energy, at an estimated €210 billion in additional funding. 

Europe sees it as necessary taxation and a proper reiteration of the 2021 EU green deal, which vies to eliminate greenhouse gasses up to 55% by 2030. The European Commission’s upgraded plan from Wed. seeks to enhance the 40% target for the EU’s renewable energy mix to 45% by 2030. This swift push away from Russia, however, will require some much-needed short-term proposals, as headed by senior EU officials, like the burning of more nuclear energy and coal as opposed to Russian fossil fuels. 

Frans Timmermans, head of the EU green deal, sees this phasing out of Russian dependence as an absolute necessity not merely on a moral and geopolitical level, but likewise also on a financial one. To promote the seemingly outlandish €210 billion number needed in upgrading the green deal, Timmermans highlights the EU’s annual €100 billion bill spent on Russian energy as among the driving proponents in building better green and clean infrastructure throughout Europe. 

“It is clear we need to put an end to this dependence and a lot faster before we had foreseen before this war. Speeding up the transition means that money can stay in Europe, can help bring down the energy bills of European families and will be used to finance this barbaric war in Ukraine,” Timmermans adamantly explains. 

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The swift move, however, comes at cost, as the plan itself relays that power plants utilizing coal “might also be used longer than initially expected,” as well as requiring an intensification of European imports to offset short-term Russian independence. Europe is looking toward acquiring pipeline gas from Azerbaijan and liquified natural gas from both Qatar and the US. 

The shift from Russian fossil fuels in all but the short term will cost 6% of the aforementioned €210 billion, around €12 billion, for the construction of upgraded oil plants and liquified natural gas terminals. Despite the increased reliance on coal, Timmermans remains confident on zero carbon emissions strategy for 2050, citing “we will bring down our emissions even quicker than before” if the country can actually diminish its “energy consumption in combination with a speedier introduction of renewables.” 

The European Commission’s new strategy, however, still features some debilitating cons, as expressed via major green energy campaigners who feel the acquisition of liquified natural gas from Middle Eastern states with negative human rights proponents is just as bad – if not worse than existing Russian pipelines. Additionally, while green energy is at the forefront of the strategy, the vice-chair of the European parliament’s environment committee, Dutch MEP Bas Eickhout, highlighted that “fossil fuel energy dependency” may well continue given that member states are still allowed to find fossil fuel infrastructure on their own guise. 

The EU is also attempting to speed up the necessary documentation, filing, and building of clean energy infrastructures, like solar and wind farms, given they can take four and nine years, respectively, to acquire an official permit. Combined efforts from both local and national lawmakers is a must for the European Commission’s strategy to accurately and effectively meet its planned outline.

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