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Whole swaths of Europe are racing to stake their energy independence and spur an energy revolution after Russia’s natural gas power plant invades Ukraine.
“We must become independent of Russian oil, coal and gas. We simply cannot rely on a supplier that explicitly threatens us. We must act now to mitigate the impact of rising energy prices, diversify our gas supply for next winter and accelerate the energy transition clean-up”, Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission said this month.
The Netherlands, France, Poland, Belgium, the UK, Germany and Italy are all strengthening their energy sectors, including expanding their wind, solar and nuclear power options.
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Germany is Europe’s largest gas-hungry country and is trying to accelerate its wind and solar energy projects. Officials said this week they aim to end the use of Russian oil and coal this year and natural gas by mid-2024.
While in Italy the first wind farm in the Mediterranean is being built, and officials in Rome are working to end the import of Russian gas by 2025. In Britain, Russian oil will be phased out by the end of this year, and officials are working on a plan to drastically expand their wind farms, as well as their nuclear capabilities.
Russia’s grip on Europe’s energy sector has tightened in recent years as European nations have avoided fracking in their own countries, largely in response to climate activists, experts say.
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“Fifteen years ago, Europe produced more natural gas than Russia,” Michael Shellenberger, author of “Apocalypse Never,” told Fox News earlier this month. “Today, Russia exports three times more natural gas to Europe than Europe produces.”
That year, the European Union imported 90% of its natural gas, including 45% from Russia, according to the European Commission. In total, around 45% of Europe’s oil and coal imports come from Russia.
But the dependency began to crumble on February 24, when Russian forces invaded Ukraine.
Poland announced last week that it would cut Russian oil and coal imports by the end of the year, with Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki describing the move as “Europe’s most radical plan”.
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Poland’s announcement comes as the European Union has so far refused to sanction the energy because it is so heavily dependent on Moscow for fuel for everything from cars to heating homes.
“We are not at war with ourselves,” Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo told an EU summit in Brussels last week. “Sanctions must always have a much greater impact on the Russian side than on ours.”
The Russian currency almost fully recovered its value at the end of March, despite weeks of crippling sanctions, as it relies on energy exports as well as currency controls.
“There was an immediate shock or reaction from the Russian market and markets outside of Russia, which is why we saw this immediate legitimate panic and legitimate downturn,” economic freedom researcher Anthony Kim recently said. at the Heritage Foundation, at FOX Business. . “And where we are now is a different time.”
RUSSIAN RUBLE RECOVERS ALMOST COMPLETELY DESPITE WESTERN SANCTIONS
The ruble recovered some of its lost value, with $1 equaling around 83 rubles on Thursday. The exchange rate before the invasion saw $1 equal to approximately 83.53 RUB.
“I think it’s just part of the process…I don’t think it’s a meaningful recovery, it’s an ongoing process,” Kim said. “What’s most important and critical is the next step.”
As the debate continues over whether the EU will impose energy sanctions on Russia and the war in Ukraine drags on for more than a month, von der Leyen urged European nations to act quickly on their energy sectors and to become “truly independent”.
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“The sooner we switch to renewables and hydrogen, combined with greater energy efficiency, the sooner we will be truly independent and in control of our energy system,” von der Leyen said this month.
Fox News’ Peter Aitken contributed to this report.