EU warns of “retreat” of fossil fuels as countries turn to coal | Fossil fuel news

Ursula von der Leyen issued a warning after several European Union members said they would use coal to generate electricity as an alternative to Russian gas.

Brussels and NGOs have expressed concern about several European Union countries, including Germany, that are returning to the use of coal for electricity production as the effects of the Russian war in Ukraine hit energy supplies.

“We need to make sure that we use this crisis to move forward and not give in to dirty fossil fuels,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said in an interview with several European media on Tuesday.

“It’s a thin line and it’s not clear if we’re going to take the right turn,” she added.

The change – a response from a power-hungry Europe that is increasingly hungry for Russian gas and oil – is seriously undermining the EU’s vaunted ambition to become climate-neutral by 2050.

This goal is one of the cornerstones of von der Leyen’s policy at the helm of the EU executive.

Germany, Austria and the Netherlands have said they will ease restrictions on coal-fired power plants after Russian energy giant Gazprom said it would reduce the amount of gas it supplies via the Nord Stream pipeline to Germany.

German Economy Minister Robert Habeck said on Tuesday that cutting gas supplies to Europe was an “attack on us” by Moscow.

While Germany, Europe’s largest economy and the region’s largest energy consumer, has said it still plans to leave coal in 2030, environmental groups are skeptical.

“bad choice”

Returning to coal is “a bad choice” with structural consequences, said Neil Macaroff of the Climate Action Network, an umbrella organization for such groups.

“Countries continue to support fossil energy instead of investing enough in renewables,” he said.

“The risk is to replace one dependency with another: imports of Colombian or Australian coal, liquefied natural gas from the United States or Qatar to replace Russian hydrocarbons.

Another group, Carbon Market Watch, agreed that the switch to coal was “alarming” and expressed hope that it would be “possible temporarily”.

The EU, as part of the sanctions imposed on Russia for its invasion of Ukraine, gradually introduced a ban on imports of Russian coal and oil.

Moscow, for its part, has pledged to cut off gas supplies to EU countries.

Although he claims that the reduced supplies are due to technical or maintenance reasons, European capitals believe that Russia is trying to harm the EU because of its support for Ukraine, in particular its candidacy for one day to join the EU bloc. .

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