Is the EU's €300 billion plan to get rid of Russian gas good against global warming?

By Jan van der Made - RFI
Russia AFPFile
MAY 19, 2022 LISTEN

The European Union has outlined its REPowerEU energy plan which will invest 300 billion euros in energy infrastructure by 2030 to end its reliance on Russian oil and gas.

EU  says the plan forsees a massive boost in the development of green energy.

Howevers critics believe the proposal will not necessarily help to combat climate change.  

The investments will include 10 billion euros in gas infrastructure, two billion euros in oil, with the rest for clean energy, Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission told reporters, adding that Brussels is also proposing to implement higher, legally-binding EU targets for renewable energy and energy savings by 2030.

The EU proposal was published in a series of documents, including legal acts, recommendations, guidelines and strategies, that fleshes out statements outlined in a press release published in March.

The strategy is built on on four pillars: saving energy, replacing Russian gas with fossil fuels from elsewhere, giving a boost to green energy development and financing new infrastructure like pipelines and LNG (liquefied natural gas) terminals.

"RePowerEU will help us to save more energy to accelerate the phasing out of fossil fuel and, most importantly, to kickstart investments on a new scale," von Leyen said.

"So I would say this will be the speed-charging of our European Green Deal."

In a 21-page "Communication" on the plan, published on 18 May, the EU Commission says that "the time to reduce Europe's strategic energy dependence is now", concluding that "REPowerEU accelerates (energy) diversification...with the potential to deliver as soon as possible the equivalent of the fossil fuels Europe currently imports from Russia every year.

Double edged sword?
The EU Commission argues that REPowerEU is a double-edged sword, cutting EU dependency on Russian fossil fuel while at the same time fulfilling goals of the "European Green Deal", a plan that was first presented in December 2019, and which aims at making Europe "the first climate-neutral continent by 2050."

But environmental watchdog Greenpeace thinks the statement is misleading. 

REPowerEU "will continue to bankroll conflict, human rights abuses and environmental destruction, while leaving people in Europe with high energy bills," according to a statement by Greenpeace.

"[It] focuses on diversifying Europe's imports of oil, gas and uranium from suppliers other than Russia, rather than ending Europe's dependence on these fuels," according to Greenpeace EU climate and energy campaigner Silvia Pastorelli in a statement.

“The EU has been burned by its reliance on dirty Russian fuels. 

"But now the European Commission is just searching for new fires to stick its hands in.

"These plans will further line the pockets of energy giants like Saudi Aramco and Shell, who are making record profits on the back of the war, while people in Europe struggle to pay the bills."

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