As the Russian blitzkrieg against the Ukrainian people enters its fourth week it is now more of an oozing “sitzkrieg”. In that time span lessons have already been forgotten and embarrassing questions go unanswered that will play center stage in the next energy funded conflict.
Six days after Russia invaded Ukraine the European Union (EU), Canada, Britain and the U.S. agreed to sanction Russian banks by excluding them from the SWIFT messaging system. SWIFT allows the fast transference of funds. Ten days later they disconnected 70% of the Russian banks from the system. Left in place were banks that handled energy payments to Russia from EU members reliant on Russian oil, coal, and natural gas. This amounts to about $1B per day to Russia. Twenty one of the thirty EU members are also NATO members.
Twelve days after the invasion the U.S. quit buying Russian crude. Several EU nations and Britain say they will stop buying Russian crude on the spot market and wind down contracts during the coming year or years as the contracts require.
Why? Why would nations provide armament funding to those posing an immediate threat their autonomy, and sacrifice their peaceful neighbor? They have sacrificed their autonomy for affordable, reliable energy supplies after shutting down their intra-country affordable, reliable energy supplies. These Russian energy imports are now required to survive the brutal Balkan winters and sustain manufacturing/exports. They would also be necessary to make the fuel to run the tanks to defend against Russian invasion.
This all started in 1972 with the signing of the Paris Economic Summit. By 2015 this simple document had grown to 500 regulations, directives, and decisions regulating energy production and “defending the environment” till 2020. To comply EU nations could not develop fossil fuels in their own nation so contracted with Russia to provide them.
Always ratcheting upward the EU’s current energy use mandates now require greenhouse gas emissions reduced by 55% compared to 1990 emissions by 2030 and net zero carbon emissions by 2050 (remember that date).
Europe has large reserves of oil and natural gas but fracking is required for recovery. Fracking is not allowed in EU nations. Non-EU member, Ukraine, fracks to avoid energy imports from Russia. Focusing on inputs, outputs, protocols, and environmental policies, EU nations forgot that energy security and national security are stripes on the same zebra. And, for a 50 year plan to work the predicted outcome must accommodate new realities. Decades of energy policies developed by the EU is known collectively as the European Green Deal and was codified in 2020. I apologize to Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez for exposing her plagiarism.
President Biden vows net carbon neutrality by 2050 implemented by no new oil or coal development. This was discussed in last week’s column.
Japan says it will be carbon net neutral by 2050. Japan imports Ural grade oil from Russia. The UK has modified its “carbon budget” to reduce shipping and aviation emissions by 78% to achieve carbon net neutral by 2050 (see above). Israel pledges to be carbon neutral by 2050. Israel imported Russian crude but now fracks and has developed large off shore reserves of natural gas for export. South Korea pledges to be net carbon neutral by 2050. South Korea imports much of its oil from Russia. The European Commission has not modified its commitment to be net carbon neutral by 2050 while ignoring members commitments to purchase Russian fossil fuels. Over 100 nations have pledged to be net carbon neutral by 2050.
Net zero carbon status does not mean zero carbon emissions. It means that if you buy enough Renewable Energy Credits (REC’s) from wind generation developers you can claim your natural gas emissions, coal fired emissions, and mobility emissions are “green” because the amount of greenhouse gasses released into the atmosphere from this generation is offset by the lack of emissions released into the atmosphere during sustainable energy generation.
While nations play environmental word games, including that an emission is not an emission, in Ukraine a war orphan means a child who’s parents were killed in the invasion.
In Montana, NorthWestern Energy has pledged to be net carbon neutral by 2050. More on that later.
Written by State Senator Brad Molnar. As a Public Service Commissioner Molnar studied international energy for 8 years.