The head of the IEA says that Europe needs ‘contingency plans’, as Russia can further reduce gas supplies in the middle of the war in Ukraine.
Russia may cut off gas to Europe altogether as it seeks to strengthen its political leverage during the Ukraine crisis, the head of the International Energy Agency (IEA) said, adding that Europe needed to prepare now.
“I do not want to rule out that Russia continues to find various problems here and there and continues to find excuses to further reduce gas supplies to Europe – and perhaps even cut it off completely,” IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol said in a statement on Wednesday. Reuters news agency.
“This is why Europe needs contingency plans,” Birol added, saying a recent reduction in flows could be an attempt to achieve political leverage ahead of the winter months with greater demand.
The IEA did not see a complete cut-off as the most likely scenario, he added.
The European Union has sanctioned Russian oil and coal, but has refrained from banning gas imports due to its heavy dependence on supplies from Moscow.
In terms of total energy investment for 2022, the IEA said in a report that $ 2.4 trillion should be invested in the sector this year, including record-breaking costs for renewable energy. But it added that it failed to close a supply gap and tackle climate change.
‘Two visions for the future’
Rising 8 percent from the previous year, when the pandemic was more severe, investment includes large increases in the electricity sector and efforts to strengthen energy efficiency, its annual investment report released Wednesday said.
Investments in oil and gas, in addition to putting back efforts to achieve the climate goals, could not meet the growing demand if the energy systems are not converted to cleaner technology, it says.
“Today’s oil and gas spending is caught between two visions of the future: it’s too high for a road adapted to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees C – but not enough to meet rising demand in one scenario. “where governments adhere to today’s political attitudes and fail to deliver on their climate promises,” the agency said.
Ambitious climate goals?
Meanwhile, an EU official said the body would temporarily switch back to coal to cope with the dwindling Russian gas flows without derailing long-term climate targets.
European leaders have rounded Russia as flows through its Nord Stream 1 pipeline were reduced to just 40 percent of capacity.
Germany, Italy and the Netherlands have signaled that coal-fired power plants could close supply gaps, although Germany is preparing to host a group at a seven-sum summit, after reaffirming a commitment to ambitious climate targets.
Europe will temporarily pursue fossil fuel alternatives to Russian gas in the light of President Vladimir Putin’s actions, a senior European Commission official said.
“The illegal Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has resulted in an emergency in the EU, ”said Elina Bardram, Acting Director of International Affairs and Climate Finance at the European Commission, to the Africa Energy Forum in Brussels.
“With the very frivolous measures we are observing from the Putin administration in relation to Gazprom lowering the power very suddenly, we are taking some very important measures, but all these measures are temporary,” she added.
The measures will be phased out as soon as possible, as the EU is determined to stick to its climate goals, she said.
“The EU’s 2030 and 2050 targets remain completely intact … while we can temporarily increase our use of coal, the long-term direction is clear,” added Bardram, who heads the European Commission’s delegation to the Paris climate talks in 2015.