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21st May 2022

EU regions ask to speed up green transition amid energy crisis

  • Local and regional leaders called on the EU Commission and member states to facilitate the purchase of solar panels by consumers (Photo: Stephen Rees)
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Regional and local authorities have called on the EU and member states to accelerate the green transition and phase out Russian oil, gas and coal imports — amid high prices and market uncertainty.

"The objective of energy security is not to be considered an alternative to the climate transition," the Committee of the Regions said in a resolution voted on Thursday (28 April).

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Europe's awakening from Russian fossil-fuel dependency has forced the 27-nations bloc to rethink the future of the EU's energy sector.

"The consequences of the war in Ukraine are currently being felt throughout the European Union. Families and businesses are bearing the brunt of Russia's aggression, not least with rising energy prices," warned committee vice-president Vasco Cordeiro.

But phasing out Russian coal, oil and gas cannot be done at the expense of "leaving people behind" or "walking back on our climate commitments," he added.

In early March, the European Commission unveiled plans to reduce its imports of Russian gas by two-thirds this year and phase out its energy trade with Moscow before 2030.

The proposal includes efforts to diversify its gas supplies, increase LNG imports, replace gas in heating and power generation, boost energy efficiency and accelerate the rollout of renewables.

But local authorities have warned that any short-term action, such as improved gas storage and increased LNG imports from the US, should not create "additional lock-in" of fossil fuel use.

As part of efforts to reduce gas energy imports from Russia, they called on the EU Commission and member states to facilitate the purchase of solar panels by consumers, speed up the rollout of heat pumps, and invest in the renovation of buildings.

And they reiterated their call for direct funds to implement Green Deal projects.

EU's energy sovereignty, EU regions also said, can only be achieved if the gas, hydrogen and electricity power grids and interconnections are improved throughout the bloc.

But the current energy crisis is "an opportunity" to increase electrification and the production of green hydrogen as solutions to decarbonise the economy, they also said.

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