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Europe's renewables push undermines Russian weaponization of energy: Kerry

John Kerry, the U.S. special envoy on climate issues, attends a press conference in Beijing

BUCHAREST (Reuters) - Europe is making itself stronger against Russian attempts to weaponize energy by switching to clean sources faster, U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry said on Thursday.

Kerry also said countries like Romania and Bulgaria could use natural gas in their transition provided steps were made to capture emissions from new developments, warning against "self-destructive choices" that would amplify the climate crisis.

Fossil fuels produced just 33% of the European Union's power in the first half of this year as the bloc fights climate change and ends dependence on Russian fossil fuels.

"One of the solutions to the challenge of someone like President (Vladimir) Putin is to more rapidly effect the (energy) transition," Kerry told Reuters in an interview in the Romanian capital Bucharest after a Three Seas summit of EU states.

"Europe has done a pretty good job."

EU member Romania aims to use nuclear and gas to fuel its energy transition, even as it is using EU funds to subsidize renewable energy projects.

The country has an estimated 200 billion cubic metres (bcm) of gas in the Black Sea, one of the EU's most significant natural gas deposits, which could help diversify supply in the region in the wake of Russia's war in Ukraine. Neighbouring Bulgaria is also exploring in its Black Sea bloc.

"In the conversations that I've had with the leaders in this region, they're very aware that if they're going to use fossil fuels, they have to capture the emissions," Kerry said, warning against "self-destructive" choices.

"And gas can be part of the transition for sure, because gas is cleaner than coal, cleaner than oil. We have to make certain that we're able to capture the emissions."

Kerry also said the U.N. climate change conference later this year, which will include work on a loss and damage fund for climate-hit states, needed to raise global ambitions on mitigation.

(Reporting by Luiza Ilie; Additional reporting by Marek Strzelecki; Editing by Nick Macfie)