Europe is facing a backlash against climate action as the cost of transitioning away from fossil fuels becomes clear.
In recent months, there have been protests and strikes across Europe as people feel the impact of climate policy in their daily lives.
In the Netherlands, farmers are protesting government calls to reduce their livestock and sell off land. In Britain, the government has announced plans to open up the North Sea to more oil and gas drilling.
Sweden, a country that has long been heralded for its energy decarbonisation policies and its goal to transition to ‘100% renewable energy’ by 2045, has shifted its energy targets to achieve ‘100% fossil-free energy generation’ by 2045. Sweden also recently announced that it has rejected Vattenfall’s offshore wind farm project because it would negatively affect the environment.
And in Italy, the government is pushing back on bloc-wide efficiency standards that could require mass renovation of buildings.
Although the EU has reduced its per capita emissions by 29% since 1990, there is still a long way to go, as the EU is one of the world’s top emitters.
The changes in European policy reflect the grave concerns about reliance on wind and solar power, causing countries to track back on energy policies towards more abundant and reliable sources.
The EU’s shift away from renewable-dependency policies holds significance for two main reasons:
- Firstly, due to various global challenges, renewables aren’t ready to replace fossil fuels. These include intermittent energy production, which is regularly inadequate to changes in demand, subsidy-free project costs, and geographic suitability.
- Secondly, European countries advocating renewable agendas to developing and emerging nations while seeking fossil fuel supplies from the same countries or backtracking on unviable renewable projects all appear ironic.
At COP26, leading developing and emerging economies like India and China stressed that coal remained essential for energy security as they declared vast renewables and other climate mitigation programmes.
The complexity of addressing climate change demands a diverse energy approach. There is no universal solution. In a world of energy diversity, achieving climate targets necessitates a wider mix of energy sources beyond renewables.
We suggest Europe respects the unique energy challenges confronting different nations and promotes appropriate fossil-fuel solutions that act in the interests of international overseas development.
“There are no one-size-fits-all solutions. Given the different pathways countries are on, our pathways for energy transition will be different.”
This is the view of Indian Prime Minister Modi on the energy transition in an interview ahead of the G20 Summit in New Delhi on 9 and 10 September.
Modi further stated, “Our principle is simple – diversity is our best bet, whether in society or in terms of our energy mix.
“Coal, oil, and gas comprise a significant portion of global energy consumption, and their replacement can’t happen overnight. India’s approach is to continue investing in the current energy system while simultaneously transitioning to cleaner fuels.
India has made remarkable strides in renewable energy, increasing solar capacity twenty-fold and ranking among the top four nations in wind energy. The country is also a leader in electric vehicle adoption.
India’s commitment to sustainability includes reducing emissions intensity, achieving net-zero emissions by 2070, and generating 50% of electricity from non-fossil fuel sources by 2030.
Modi envisions a cooperative approach to tackling climate change, emphasising support in finance, technology, and resources for nations seeking greener solutions as India’s quest for a just and orderly energy transition continues.
It is welcoming and significant that a leader of such influence shares our perspective, and he is right.
Success in countries’ clean energy transitions cannot be achieved through a “one-size-fits-all” approach like relying solely on renewables. Each country has its unique natural resources, requirements, and needs that are not directly comparable to others.
As Modi and our narrative for the past four to five years have affirmed, countries will be successful if they have a diverse energy mix that encompasses a range of technologies and fuels.