Amid disputes over fuel prices and allegations by Russia that the Ukraine has been stealing natural gas intended for Europe, Russia’s major natural gas supplier has turned off the taps to many of it’s pipelines.
Eastern Europeans are already feeling the cold from this most recent shortage in fuel supply. Without other significant fuel choice options to produce heat, those affected are often being forced to live through these frigid conditions.
Experts and political leaders from around Europe are highlighting this dispute between Russia and the Ukraine as the turning point needed for the EU to get serious about addressing its energy security challenges. Given the declining fossil fuel resource base in Europe, steadily increasing demand, and the likelihood of more energy-related disputes between Russia and the Ukraine in the future, the EU will need to make some bold moves to avoid future energy shortages, especially shortages that have the potential to being much more severe.
An expert interviewed on BBC Worldnews last night speculated on the need for the EU to support the development of natural gas pipelines from Asia that take alternate delivery routes, avoiding the Ukraine. While this may reduce Europe’s exposure to the current Russia-Ukraine conflict, it leaves Europe vulnerable to other regional conflicts that have a likelihood of developing in the foreseeable future. It also does nothing to address Europe’s biggest problem here, energy dependance.
A reactionary approach to the current situation, such as developing an alternative pipeline route , would only create a short term solution to the problem, at best.
The EU needs to look at this issue as the final motivator to rapidly transitioning into a fully renewable, energy efficient, and energy independent region. Until these options are brought into the foreground of the energy supply debate, we will be continually at the mercy of repeated geo-political disputes in neighbouring regions.