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The End of Europe’s Clean-Energy Evangelism

Europe’s pleas to energy producers in the Global South to help it reduce its dependence on Russia have probably prompted more than a few eye rolls. After all, countries across the developing world have endured years of proselytizing from Europe about the importance of making rapid progress toward a carbon-free energy future.

MADRID – Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war against Ukraine has served Europe a heaping dose of energy realism. While the European Union was touting a “no pain, all gain” transition to renewable energy, many of its industries – particularly in Germany – had developed a debilitating dependence on cheap Russian gas. This revelation should be the first step toward a more realistic – and less dogmatic – European approach not only to its own energy transition, but also to that in the Global South.

The EU has an action plan for weaning itself off Russian fossil fuels. But, while the details of REPowerEU are still being finalized, it is already clear that, like so many European “solutions,” the plan is an exercise in muddling through, exemplified by the fact that it will not be completed until 2030.

Though REPowerEU aims to accelerate the rollout of renewables and replace gas in heating and power generation, it also depends significantly on the diversification of energy supplies. Already, energy producers in the Global South have received desperate pleas to help meet the EU’s energy needs, which has probably prompted more than a few eye rolls. After all, countries across the developing world have endured years of European proselytizing about the importance of rapid progress toward a carbon-free energy system.

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