When it comes to climate change, there is often a sigh of relief about how difficult it will be and how much it will cost. But there is an upside that is rarely noticed. In terms of security policy, stopping fossil fuels is a hit.
Initially, it is a matter reduce the use of oil, gas and coal and replacing it with, above all, wind, solar and water.
In the short and medium-term perspective, the transition naturally creates problems. The car fleet needs to be replaced from petrol and diesel to electric or hydrogen cars. Heavy industries have to change energy systems.
But if countries looked at climate change from a security policy point of view, they would see the enormous benefits of speeding up climate change. Especially in Europe.
The EU imports 96% of its crude oil from countries outside the Union. Most are from unstable regions where terrorism and internal conflicts are increasing, according to a study from Cambridge Econometrics 2020. 31 percent of the imported crude oil comes from Russia. 21 percent from the Middle East.
In 2018, it cost the EU more than 200 billion euros to cover its oil needs.
The picture is similar when it comes to natural gas where 83 percent is imported. 41 percent of EU imports come from Russia. The Middle East and North Africa account for a significant share.
As the new Nordstream II, the gas pipeline is ready for use when the German authorities give their permission, the share of Russian gas imports is likely to increase.
The only option
Almost half of the EU’s coal imports come from Russia. The past month has shown the risks that such a large part of the EU’s energy needs are dependent on imports.
The oil-producing countries’ cartel Opec has refused to increase production despite the fact that we have seen a sharp increase in demand in recent months due to the recovery from the corona pandemic. The result has been sharp price increases for oil, petrol and diesel.
As the EU has ambitious climate goals, many countries are trying to reduce their use of, above all, coal but also oil. As investments in renewable energy sources are far behind energy needs, natural gas is the only alternative that remains that emits less carbon dioxide.
But Russia has refused to increase its exports beyond existing agreements, which has led to extremely sharp price increases. President Putin has used the energy crisis to pressure the EU and Germany to give the go-ahead to allow gas to flow into Nordstream II’s pipelines.
The recent crisis has brutally focused on Europe’s strong energy dependence on Russia and countries in the Middle East. A very unhealthy situation.
The dependence varies greatly between different countries, but the great power of Germany belongs to those who are really stuck in the grip of the Kremlin. Especially after Angela Merkel decided to shut down all nuclear power.
Limit extreme weather
Perhaps it is a coincidence that Germany is one of the countries that does not like to use harsh words against Russia or advocates the hardest for increased sanctions. But it is of course difficult to be tough on Putin’s aggression against, for example, Ukraine when the Germans at the same time risk freezing every winter if Russia tightens the gas tap.
Many countries, and especially the EU, have an incredible amount to gain from switching to renewable energy sources as quickly as possible. For every barrel of oil and every cubic meter of natural gas that the EU avoids importing, the Union’s security policy room for maneuver increases.
From that point of view, the transition to sun, wind and water is a brilliant business. Instead of filling the coffers of Arab sheiks and the Kremlin, you can let the money go to European companies that produce renewable energy.
On top of that, the EU is making an exemplary contribution to reducing carbon dioxide emissions, thereby limiting the increase in extreme weather and rising sea levels.
Energy supply is the basis for modern prosperity and therefore of the greatest security policy importance. The less dependent the EU and other countries are on energy imports from authoritarian regimes, the freer they are from attempts at blackmail or whims of various dictators and autocrats.
Holding back severe climate effects also reduces the risk of new conflict hotspots, large refugee flows and other serious security policy situations.
It’s a “win-win” all the way.
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