European Reliance On Russian Fossil Fuels

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Europe was devastated by the high gas prices during Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in 2022. In August of 2022, gas prices in Europe reached a record of 300 euros per MWh, compared to the price of 20 euros per MWh in 2020. This drastic change in price tells that Europe relies too heavily on Russian-produced fossil fuels. Russia is the third largest producer of fossil fuels due to its large mass. Europe tried to cripple the Russian economy with multiple rounds of sanctions, but it still prevailed throughout the sanctions. Sanctions against Russia may not be effective enough because Russian firms have ways of going around those sanctions. One major tactic Russian firms use is to disguise themselves as other firms. The Wagner Group did this throughout the Syrian crisis in 2015, and Putin disguised Wagner Group’s multiple companies to grow shadow firms. Another Russian tactic is to trade with those who are more friendly to Russia. For example, India, China, and the UAE are open to Russian trade and profit from low-priced Russian fossil fuel.

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Russia’s economy has recovered since the start of the war. Russia is now exporting more oil to other places in the world. One thing that Europe is doing right now is making itself less self-reliant on Russian fossil fuels. When the war started, economic experts suspected that Europe would move away from renewable resources, and move toward building better fossil fuel and gas infrastructure. Europeans for the longest while have relied on building infrastructure, such as gas pipes, for moving energy resources. Ukraine serves as the main transport territory for gas lines. Russia in 2006 and 2009 disputed pricing on gas exports and the debt that Ukraine had on gas exports. What the disputes led to was the shutting down of gas pipelines throughout Ukraine. The result of Russia shutting down gas pipelines in Ukraine was that Europeans could not access the major gas pipelines coming from Russia through Ukraine. Instead of denouncing ties with Russia over the gas dispute, European countries built more gas pipelines to Russia.

Europe must disconnect itself from Russian fossil fuels. Relying too heavily on Russian fossil fuels makes Europeans more susceptible to damage from Russia. It also means that Russia will hold Europe’s economy hostage, and take more aggressive actions against other nations. In 2022, Russia earned a total of 158 billion euros in revenues coming from fossil fuel exports, 54 percent of which came from EU imports. When Russia started its invasion of Ukraine in 2022, the EU switched to importing fossil fuels from different parts of the world. The EU moved to import fossil fuels from North Africa, The Middle East, and North America. What this did was make reliance on Russia in the future more unlikely. Moving trade from Russia to other places of the world was important for the EU and it allowed Europe to have better trading allies. The United States in North America and some trading partners in the Middle East are more reliable than Russia. If Russia is allowed to have a monopoly on fossil fuels in Europe, then Europe will only be supplying Russia with the fuel it needs to cause problems within the region. Funding the Russian economy helps Putin fund his war machine.

Europe has seemingly, almost radically supported renewable resources. The United Nations and the EU have made it their initiative to stop climate change at whatever pace is necessary. The reason why producing more renewable energy in Europe is good is because it allows Europe to stop relying on energy coming from Russia. Russia is opposed to G7 climate change resolutions and the reason for that is pretty obvious; Russia makes a profit off of selling fossil fuels. If Europe were to make itself an effective producer of renewable energy, then it would cripple Russia’s hold on the fossil fuel economy. Russia would then have to move to selling fossil fuels to India, China, and Middle Eastern countries in the future. Russia wants Europe to rely on its fossil fuels. When the war started, Germany stopped the closure of nuclear power plants so that it could meet energy quotas. The problem with renewable energy is that it is not as efficient as fossil fuels. If producing renewable energy was more reliable than the use of fossil fuels, then Europe would have succeeded in transitioning from fossil fuels to renewable energy.

Europe is still successful in producing renewable resources, but it still relies heavily on fossil fuels. Nuclear energy should be the route that Europe is moving towards. Skeptics on nuclear energy have not acknowledged that it is more effective than other renewable energy production methods such as the use of windmills and solar panels. Often it takes too many resources to produce renewable energy. Wind farms take up a large amount of space, and solar panels are inconvenient as they require frequent cleaning and cooling. Europe must move to renewable energies and it can make itself self-sufficient. If European countries do not rely on renewable energy, then they will have to rely on imports from countries such as Russia. Europe needs to find a better way of producing its energy.

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