1 of 2 | The war in Ukraine disrupted global energy flows, creating road blocks in the path to a net-zero emission economy, Norwegian energy company Equinor said Thursday. File Photo courtesy of National Police of Ukraine/EPA-EFE
June 8 (UPI) -- Geopolitical conflict primarily stemming from the war in Ukraine has created roadblocks for the energy transition, moving the goal post for climate objectives, Norwegian energy company Equinor said Thursday.
Norway's economy is unique. It's one of the main oil and natural gas suppliers to the regional economy, while relying on renewable resources for much of its own energy needs.
Eirik Waerness, the chief economist for Equinor, said Thursday that positive developments in terms of low-carbon resources have been offset by largely negative news.
"The continued war initiated by Russia's invasion of Ukraine and the challenges with inflation and cost of living are putting a damper on absolutely necessary energy transition measures," he said.
The war disrupted global energy flows. Russia was once the main crude oil and natural gas supplier to the European economy and sanctions imposed in response to the invasion of Ukraine prompted an urgent search for alternatives.
Rather than wind and solar, those alternatives came largely from different fossil fuel producers in order to avoid a global energy emergency. Liquefied natural gas from the United States is filling much of the void with the long journeys for shipment across the Atlantic.
Environmental activists say the oil and gas industry is among the largest emitters of methane in the world. Methane accounts for only a fraction of total human-related greenhouse gas emissions, though it has a warming potential that far exceeds that of carbon dioxide.
Heat-trapping carbon dioxide, meanwhile, reached record levels in May, peaking at 424 parts per million and blowing past levels not seen in more than 4 million years, the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration found.
"Every year we see carbon dioxide levels in our atmosphere increase as a direct result of human activity," said NOAA administrator Rick Spinrad.
But progress is still being made on the energy transition. The Western-backed International Energy Agency estimated that more than half of the $2.8 trillion in global energy investments this year target alternative forms of energy.
"Despite short-term setbacks the longer-term signals clearly point in the direction of decarbonization, but speed and scale are uncertain," Equinor's Waerness said.