EU Must Speed Green Deal to Shut Out Russian Gas, CEOs Say
John Ainger – May 10, 2022
(Bloomberg) — More than 100 companies from Microsoft Corp. to Unilever Plc want the European Union to intensify its focus on renewable energy as the bloc races to end its dependency on Russian fossil fuels.
“At the core of the current energy security and price crises sits an overdependence on volatile, imported fossil gas, oil and coal,” chief executives and other business leaders said in a letter to European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen. “This is the time to be bold and double down on delivering the Green Deal,” the EU’s push for carbon neutrality by mid-century.
The EU can accelerate its shift by scaling up investments in renewable energy, improving building insulation and encouraging businesses to choose low-carbon technologies, according to the letter seen by Bloomberg. Tax cuts and income-support measures could help spur the change, said the companies, which include Iberdrola SA and retailer H&M.
Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine in February exacerbated an energy-supply crunch already under way in Europe, sending commodity prices soaring to record levels. Now the continent is facing potential fuel disruptions as Russia — the EU’s biggest gas provider — threatens to cut supplies if buyers don’t pay in rubles.
Next week the EU is set to launch its plan to slash the use of Russian gas by two-thirds this year. It’s set to include measures that will speed the permitting process for wind and solar farms, while also creating incentives for consumers to use less energy.
Also See: EU Seeks to Boost Solar Energy to Cut Russian Gas, Draft Shows
Before the war, Russia was responsible for around 40% of the EU’s gas imports, a figure the bloc wants to bring down to zero this decade. While the EU is burning more coal and seeking energy from alternative sources that could temporarily raise emissions, it wants to accelerate the transition in the longer term.
The CEOs called for a strengthening of key pillars of the Green Deal by increasing ambition in areas like the EU’s carbon market, albeit with more support for domestic industry. They’re also seeking to increase the specialized workforce needed for the transition to cleaner energy.