Trust: Why Europe needs to break its imported fossil fuel addiction

Europe is by far the largest importer of fossil fuel in the world. And the recent developments in Ukraine, Syria and Iraq highlight once again how vulnerable Europe’s economy is to price spikes, external energy shocks and other regimes’ wishes.

Like a patient hoping to get better, the drip-feed of imported fossil fuels is keeping the European economy alive, but isn’t providing the remedy to spur new growth.

Just take our energy bill as an example. For years, imports of fossil fuels have weighed in negatively on the European balance of trade. Today, Europe imports more than two-thirds of all the gas and almost all the oil it consumes. And it pays more than 1 billion euros ($1.36 billion) per day for its imported fossil fuels.

Energy dependency costs, that much is clear. But how about the political costs? Just an example: six EU countries depend from Russia as single external supplier for their entire gas imports and three of them use natural gas for more than a quarter of their total energy needs.

Wouldn’t it be wise to break this dependency by saving and producing energy here in Europe? The foreign providers may freeze oil and gas supply, but they can’t freeze our sun or our wind. They can’t charge us for the energy we don’t consume.

Our path to real energy security begins here at home. We can always dig more coal, some would argue. Would that be the solution?  Obviously not. Coal is not only the top contributor to climate change, but it is also the cause of smog, acid rain, and toxic air pollution. It is therefore against our climate policies and targets.

Energy security and climate action go hand in hand. You can’t have one without the other. That’s why renewables and energy efficiency must be the two key ingredients: they’re both good for the climate and our energy independence.

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Source: TRUST, 2014

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