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A Cure for Europe’s Addiction to Russian Energy

Soon after Russia's invasion of Ukraine, the EU announced plans to cut its dependence on Russian fuel by two-thirds this year and end its reliance entirely “well before” 2030. Greater energy efficiency could go a long way toward enabling the EU to achieve these goals.

COPENHAGEN – Russia’s shocking invasion of Ukraine has awakened the European Union to the urgent need to reduce its reliance on Russian fossil fuels. But, as the EU attempts to escape the Russian energy yoke, it must not overlook the critical importance of energy efficiency.

The EU is the single largest customer for Russia’s natural gas and petroleum products. Russia accounts for around 40% of the EU’s gas imports and about a quarter of its oil imports, but only now has it become starkly apparent just how vulnerable this has left us. That is why, soon after the invasion, the EU announced plans to cut its dependence on Russian hydrocarbons by two-thirds this year and end its reliance entirely “well before” 2030.

Greater energy efficiency – achieved through such basic investments as double-pane windows, modern thermostats, and building insulation – could go a long way toward enabling the EU to achieve these goals. According to the European Commission, when energy efficiency is increased by just 1%, gas imports decline by 2.6%. In other words, Europe can take a major geopolitical and environmental step forward simply by wasting less energy.

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