Europe not ready to completely phase out fossil fuels, says Norwegian foreign minister
Europe cannot completely phase out the use of natural gas in favor of greener energy sources at this stage, Norwegian Foreign Minister Anniken Huitfeldt said at the international Raisina Dialogue conference in New Delhi on Tuesday.
“Gas is a transient source. It should be used just when we intend to turn to renewable energy. It is not possible to immediately reduce the work of the gas industry, especially in Europe, where the demand for Norwegian gas is now high. We will continue to supply gas to the European market for several more years,” she says.
His statements come amid calls from many European countries to reduce dependence on Russian energy, with some suggesting that turning to green energy could be an alternative. However, analysts say it is impossible to replace Russian energy imports with green energy in the short term.
According to Huitfeldt, his country is moving towards reducing emissions under the EU’s Green Deal, but considers a full and immediate transition to renewable energy sources unlikely, as there are currently strong demand for fossil fuels in the region. Oslo is heavily dependent on its oil and gas sector, being the EU’s second largest energy supplier after Russia. Huitfeldt pointed out that Norway considers it wrong to liquidate its oil and gas industry in the name of a full transition to renewable energy.
“Of course, we will reduce emissions by 55% by 2030, but we will not support the elimination of the Norwegian oil and gas sector, because that would be a mistake. We use the knowledge accumulated in this industry and the surplus it gives to develop renewable energies,” she says.
Still according to the manager, the ‘green’ transition is necessary in the long term, especially since “the current crisis in relations with Russia demonstrates in a very painful way that dependence on fossil fuels can lead to vulnerability in the context of energy supply.”
Energy prices soared globally last month after Russia launched a military operation in Ukraine that sparked a flood of Western economic sanctions against Moscow. The measures stopped just before an embargo on Russian crude oil and natural gas, but made it difficult for foreign companies to gain access to the Russian energy market. Russia retaliated by introducing a new ruble-based payment mechanism for its natural gas, leaving open the possibility that other energy exports could follow. The situation makes Russian market participants and foreign buyers wary that the country’s vast energy exports could be cut off from the West.
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