EU to end all imports of Russian oil and gas ‘well before 2030’ following Ukraine invasion

A worker at a Ukrainian gas station in Volovets, western Ukraine. ‘Let’s dash into renewables at lightning speed’, the European Commission’s Frans Timmermans says (AP)
A worker at a Ukrainian gas station in Volovets, western Ukraine. ‘Let’s dash into renewables at lightning speed’, the European Commission’s Frans Timmermans says (AP)

The EU has unveiled major new plans to end all imports of fossil fuels from Russia "well before 2030", following the invasion of Ukraine.

"The case for a rapid clean energy transition has never been stronger and clearer," the European Commission said in a statement.

The rapid reduction in fossil fuel imports from Russia will begin with reducing dependency on Russian gas, the Commission said.

In order to achieve this, the Commission said it will work to increase the resilience of the EU-wide energy system by diversifying its gas supplies, phasing out existing dependence on Russia, and also by rapidly reducing the overall use of fossil fuels by boosting energy efficiency and rolling out more renewable sources of power.

Executive vice-president for the European Green Deal, Frans Timmermans told a press conference on Tuesday: "Renewables give us the freedom to choose an energy source that is clean, cheap, reliable and ours. Instead of continuing to fund fossil fuel imports and Russian oligarchs, renewables fund jobs here in Europe."

He added that getting off Russian gas supplies would be "hard, bloody hard, if we’re willing to go further and faster than ever before."

The commission said that under existing plans it would already have reduced the amount of gas imported from Russia from 155 billion cubic metres (bcm) to 55bcm by the end of the decade.

However, under the new plan, called REpowerEU, the bloc could remove the entire 155bcm of Russian gas imports by 2030.

The EU imports 90 per cent of all the gas it consumes, with Russia providing around 45 per cent of those imports, in varying levels across member states.

Russia also accounts for around 25 per cent of the EU’s oil imports and 45 per cent of coal imports.

Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said: “We must become independent from Russian oil, coal and gas. We simply cannot rely on a supplier who explicitly threatens us.

"We need to act now to mitigate the impact of rising energy prices, diversify our gas supply for next winter and accelerate the clean energy transition. The quicker we switch to renewables and hydrogen, combined with more energy efficiency, the quicker we will be truly independent and master our energy system.

Mr Timmermans added: “It is time we tackle our vulnerabilities and rapidly become more independent in our energy choices.

"Let’s dash into renewable energy at lightning speed. Renewables are a cheap, clean, and potentially endless source of energy and instead of funding the fossil fuel industry elsewhere, they create jobs here. Putin’s war in Ukraine demonstrates the urgency of accelerating our clean energy transition.”

To address soaring energy prices, the Commission said it "will look into all possible options for emergency measures to limit the contagion effect of gas prices and electricity prices, such as temporary price limits".

A legislative proposal which will be presented "by April", will also put the case for laws to ensure that underground gas storage facilities across the EU must be filled up to at least 90 per cent of their capacity by 1 October each year.