European leaders gathered at the Munich Security Conference this weekend signaled the urgent need to reduce the continent’s dependence on Russian gas imports in response to escalating fears that Moscow is ready to order an invasion of Ukraine.
In his speech, which reiterated warnings that it was in the West’s interest to ensure that any Russian attack “ultimately failed and was seen as a failure”, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson argued that Europe “must now wean themselves from Putin’s dependence on oil and gas. ” .
Johnson stressed that in the event of an invasion, Western powers will continue to support Ukraine, while Russia will face broad sanctions. He promised that the British government would direct sanctions directly against Russian individuals and companies of strategic importance to the Russian state. “We will make it impossible for them to attract financing in the London capital markets,” he said. “And we will open dolls of Russian companies and Russian organizations to find their ultimate beneficiaries.”
However, he also acknowledged that Europe’s dependence on gas imports from Russia would complicate any attempt to ensure that Russia pays a high economic price for any invasion, meaning it is now vital to accelerate efforts to reduce dependence on Russian gas.
I understand the cost and complexity of this effort and the fact that it is easier said than done, so I am grateful for Chancellor Scholz’s assurances about Nord Stream 2, but the lessons of the last few years and Gazprom’s obvious manipulation of European gas supplies cannot be ignored, ”Johnson said, referring to the testimony of the German leader that the planned Nord Stream 2 pipeline may be blocked in response to any attack.
“We need to ensure that by making full use of alternative suppliers and technology, we make unnecessary threats to Russia,” Johnson added. “It will be the work of the coming months and years, as well as the necessary and overdue steps we in the UK need to take to protect our own financial system.”
Johnson’s comments were echoed by German Foreign Minister Annalen Burbock, who said she said reducing Europe’s dependence on gas was “one of the answers to the crisis”. “I mean, why is it so difficult for us to formulate strong sanctions, because we are very dependent, especially my country, on the import of minerals from Russia,” she admitted.
Concerns were also voiced at the conference over the extent to which the Russian-Ukrainian crisis and the wider escalation of geopolitical tensions could overshadow work to accelerate international efforts to decarbonise.
Politics quoted U.S. Climate Envoy John Kerry said confrontation at Europe’s borders “would be a distraction” from the need to rely on last year’s Glasgow climate pact.
His remarks were echoed by Burbock, who argued that this seemed to be part of the Kremlin’s strategy to outperform the West’s diplomatic capabilities, so “we have no time for other crises.”
However, talking to Politics, UK COP26 President Alok Sharma reiterated his view that climate diplomacy could become a forum for co-operation, even if tensions between countries worsen on other fronts. “It’s difficult when you have one big, immediate geopolitical problem that takes up a lot of bandwidth,” he admitted. “But that doesn’t mean governments are also reluctant to focus on other important issues.”
The conference comes ahead of the launch next week of the latest report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which will summarize the latest scientific views on projected climate impacts and is expected to provide deeply sober information on the enormous environmental, economic and geographic risks. the world can expect if the temperature continues to rise.
As president of the COP26 climate summit until the COP27 climate summit in Egypt begins in November, the UK government is tasked with leading efforts to encourage countries to keep their promises in the Glasgow Climate Pact and strengthen their national climate action plans. them according to a warming trajectory of 1.5C.
However, work to ensure updated national plans has so far not led to major breakthroughs, and observers remain deeply concerned that deteriorating geopolitical landscapes could undermine efforts to accelerate decarbonisation globally.
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