A Ukrainian worker operates at the natural gas pipeline from Russia to Poland in Boyarka, Ukraine, a town 15 miles from Kyiv. File Photo by Sergey Starostenko/UPI | License Photo
March 8 (UPI) -- The European Commission proposed a plan Tuesday to end its dependence on Russian gas by 2030 in response to the invasion of Ukraine.
The Commission plans to phase out its dependence on Russian fossil fuels, starting with gas, by increasing its Liquefied Natural Gas and pipeline imports from non-Russian suppliers, and accelerating renewable energy efforts.
"It is time we tackle our vulnerabilities and rapidly become more independent in our energy choices," Frans Timmermans, executive vice president of the Commission for the European Green Deal, said in a statement. "Let's dash into renewable energy at lightning speed. Renewables are a cheap, clean, and potentially endless source of energy and instead of funding the fossil fuel industry elsewhere they create jobs here. Putin's war in Ukraine demonstrates the urgency of accelerating our clean energy transition."
Meanwhile, analysts have noted that the Russia-Ukraine war has driven up natural gas prices worldwide by potentially threatening the flow of gas supplies into Europe.
The European Union is currently heavily reliant on imports for gas consumption, with imports accounting for 95% of its gas consumption, and Russia providing around 45% of those imports, the Commission noted.
The goal is reduce EU demand for Russian gas by two-thirds by the end of the year, "ending the EU's overdependence on a single supplier," and "make Europe independent from Russian fossil fuels well before 2030," according to the plan.
Energy prices had already been on the rise for several months as energy demand rose after COVID-19 pandemic restrictions eased.
Russia's invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24 has exacerbated the problem since Ukraine's gas-transport infrastructure is critical to European gas supplies.
The Commission's plan also proposes measures to respond to skyrocketing energy prices, including emergency measures, such as temporary price limits, and redistributing revenue from "high energy sector profits and emissions trading to consumers."
"Russia's invasion of Ukraine has aggravated the security of supply situation and driven energy prices to unprecedented levels," Energy Commissioner Kadri Simson said in the statement. "For the remaining weeks of this winter, Europe has sufficient amounts of gas, but we need to replenish our reserves urgently for next year. The Commission will therefore propose that by October 1, gas storage in the EU has to be filled up to at least 90%. We have outlined price regulations, state aid and tax measures to protect European households and businesses against the impact of the exceptionally high prices."