After 30 years of utopian green dreaming Europe’s energy policy blown to smithereens


By: - Climate DepotMarch 7, 2022 2:25 PM

https://mailchi.mp/c5086b61a9df/europes-energy-policyblown-to-smithereens-187606?e=0b1369f9f8

Net Zero Samizdat
The world’s best climate & energy policy bulletin

7 March 2022

After 30 years of utopian dreaming

Europe’s energy policy blown to smithereens

1) China to ramp up oil, gas, coal production as energy costs rise
Financial Review, 7 March 2022

2) ‘Lift fracking ban to boost UK’s security over energy’
Daily Express, 7 March 2022

3) Top Tories call on Boris Johnson to ditch plans to ban fracking with launch of ‘national mission’ to end Britain’s reliance on foreign gas
Daily Mail, 7 March 2022

4) Senior government official: Western countries could look into reviewing their Net Zero policy
Daily Express, 7 March 2022

5) Boris could ‘ease off’ Net Zero target to counter Russia threat

Daily Mail, 7 March 2022

6) Boris Johnson’s call to relax green target
The Times, 7 March 2022

7) Fracking could return as firms research methods to reduce earthquakes amid energy fears
The Daily Telegraph, 7 March 2022
8) Steve Hilton: How orgy of green virtue-signalling lined Putin’s pocket
Daily Mail, 7 March 2022

9) Bjorn Lomborg: How can Europe stop using Russian gas? Nuclear power and fracking

1) China to ramp up oil, gas, coal production as energy costs rise
Financial Review, 7 March 2022

China says it will ramp up domestic oil, gas and coal production and increase reserves of the commodities, warning that the war in Ukraine is driving up energy costs at a time when it is determined to stabilise commodity prices.

In comments that will have long-term ramifications for Australian commodity exports to China, officials from the country’s powerful state planner said on Monday said there were plans to add 200 million tonnes of coal stocks and more than 5 billion cubic metres of gas storage.

Officials acknowledged rising crude oil and gas prices due to the Ukraine war and Russian sanctions would affect China, but said the situation was manageable.

“The recent escalation of the conflict between Russia and Ukraine has had an impact on the global energy market, and international crude oil and natural gas prices have risen further,” National Development and Refom Commission vice-director Lian Weiliang told reporters.

“Due to the high proportion of China’s crude oil and natural gas which is outsourced, it will definitely be affected and import costs will rise. But overall the impact is manageable,” he said.

The comments came as the latest trade data showed a slowdown in China’s import and export growth in January and February. This included a 14 per cent drop in coal imports for the first two months of the year after Indonesia temporarily banned shipments of the commodity.

The invasion of Ukraine by Russia, a major oil and natural gas producer, has driven up global commodity prices amid fears of an energy supply shortage. China, which says it opposes sanctions on Russia, also imports oil and gas from Moscow.

Continued reliance on coal

Rising energy costs and electricity shortages are a major concern for the Chinese government, which is seeking to grow the world’s second-largest economy by about 5.5 per cent this year. China imports more than 70 per cent of its oil and 40 per cent of gas from overseas. It banned imports of Australian coal 18 months ago due to political tensions.

While China has said its carbon emissions would peak in 2025, it is still heavily reliant on coal. The slowing economy has meant earlier plans to scale back the use of coal have been put on the backburner.

Full story

2) ‘Lift fracking ban to boost UK’s security over energy’
Daily Express, 7 March 2022

BORIS Johnson is facing pressure to help bolster Britain’s energy security by reversing a decision to close the country’s last two viable fracking sites.

Thirty-five Tory MPs and four peers sent a joint letter to the Prime Minister urging him to overturn an order, by the Oil and Gas Authority, to shut off shale gas wells in Lancashire. They warned that Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine made energy security a top priority for the UK.

Putin sparks panic as he CUTS main gas pipeline to Europe
The plea comes amid growing concern about the impact of green targets on the cost of living.

And in a separate move, Nigel Farage launched a campaign Britain Means Business seeking to force a referendum on the Government’s plan to achieve “net zero” carbon emissions in the UK by the middle of the century.

Tory MPs yesterday expressed anger about a claim by a minister that the two shale gas wells at Preston New Road, Lancs, were exhausted.

Energy Minister Greg Hands had said: “Gas wells need to be safely decommissioned at the end of their useful life.” But Tory MP Craig Mackinlay, chairman of the Net Zero Scrutiny Group, said: “These wells haven’t even started their useful life.

“As we face possibly the most serious energy crisis in history, they could play a fundamental role in preventing British people from being put at the mercy of a volatile global gas market dominated by Russia.

“The only thing that’s useless is the moratorium on shale gas extraction and a bizarre instruction from the Business Department to concrete up our wells in the midst of a cost-of-living crisis, made worse by conflict in Europe.

“It amounts to nothing less than incoherent industrial vandalism.”

3) Top Tories call on Boris Johnson to ditch plans to ban fracking with launch of ‘national mission’ to end Britain’s reliance on foreign gas
Daily Mail, 7 March 2022

Nearly 40 Conservative parliamentarians have written to Boris Johnson urging him to reverse plans to end fracking.

The 34 MPs and five peers claim that sealing two of the UK’s only viable shale gas wells next week would benefit Vladimir Putin.

Britain must instead embark on a ‘national mission’ to secure its energy independence and reduce its reliance on imported gas, they say.

Energy company Cuadrilla is due to concrete over its fracking wells in Lancashire on March 15, having been ordered to do so by the Oil and Gas Authority.

But the MPs – led by Craig Mackinlay and Steve Baker, the chairman and deputy chairman of the Conservative Net Zero Scrutiny Group – have issued a plea to halt the move.

In a letter to Mr Johnson they wrote: ‘We urge you to pause and conduct a review. At a time of such geopolitical strife, we cannot refrain from actions that would improve the position of the UK and its allies.’

Their intervention follows a first letter sent before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which Mr Johnson has yet to respond to.

Signatories included Lord Frost, the former Cabinet Office minister, who said overturning the fracking ban would herald a ‘British energy renaissance’. The latest letter is signed by more MPs, with backers including the former Cabinet ministers Lord Lilley and Esther McVey.

But a source at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) resisted the call, saying the MPs should ‘get real’ (sic!).

In their letter to Mr Johnson, the MPs wrote: ‘Europe has developed an ‘addiction’ to Russian gas.

‘This has gifted the Kremlin considerable influence at the heart of our democracies.’

They added: ‘Filling these wells with cement as Europe stands on the brink of all-out war would send the wrong signal to our allies and to our enemies.’

Last week, Sir Richard Dearlove, the former head of MI6, called for an immediate reversal of the fracking ban to help Britain ‘become reasonably independent in our ability to produce energy’. It came as Mr Baker was told by business minister Greg Hands that the wells needed to be ‘safely decommissioned at the end of their useful life’.

Mr Baker said: ‘The minister’s suggestion that these wells are at the end of their useful life is outrageous.. they are ready to produce shale gas so that we can create British jobs and tax revenues, energy security and a faster route to Net Zero.

‘The only thing that is causing a problem here is… the state mandating that we pour concrete down Britain’s only shale gas wells at the height of an energy crisis.’

A BEIS spokesman said: ‘The UK is in no way dependent on Russian gas, with imports making up just 4 per cent of demand. Fracking would have no effect on domestic energy prices in the near future.’

Three years ago, Cuadrilla, the only firm to frack for gas in the UK, struck a supply of shale gas it said could eliminate Britain’s dependency on imports by half. But following a tremor in August 2019, the Government announced a moratorium, forcing the firm to stop work. Since then, the site has lain derelict. Cuadrilla has now been ordered to spend £1million to plug the wells and leave.

Meanwhile, Nicola Sturgeon is coming under pressure from senior SNP colleagues to end her opposition to North Sea oil and gas. Following the Russian invasion of Ukraine and rising energy prices, there are concerns that a lack of development in the North Sea helps Putin.

4) Senior government official: Western countries could look into reviewing their Net Zero policy
Daily Express, 7 March 2022

A senior Government source has stated Western countries could look into reviewing their net zero policy, as one of the ways to become less reliant on Russia.

BORIS JOHNSON was warned over the UK’s reliance on gas imported from Russia, amid the war in Ukraine, and a need for the country to become more energy secure.

With energy bills soaring in the country after the cap on energy prices was raised by Ofgem and inflation spiked, the Government now is faced with potential deductions in the exported amounts of gas from Russia.

A senior Government source has stated Western countries could look into reviewing their net zero policy, as one of the ways to become less reliant on Russia.

Speaking to Politico’s London Playbook, the source said that observers “could expect to hear a lot more about Western countries giving themselves a temporary ‘climate change pass’,” due to the developments in Ukraine.

However, the source noted that Britain is not as dependent as others on Russian energy.

Reviewing the agenda around the net zero policy is a prospect supported by backbench Tory MPs, members of the Net Zero Scrutiny Group (NZSG), who are calling for the ban on fracking to be lifted.

At the same time, political analyst Joe Armitage, with an article in the Telegraph, suggested that a reduction in Russian gas exports could bring energy prices to a new “eye-watering” high.

According to the analyst, this is mainly due to the UK’s exposure to wholesale energy prices.

Mr Armitage said: “As a result of Europe’s over-dependence on Russian gas, any material curtailment of its supply to the continent would result in a significant scramble to buy Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) from the United States and Qatar.

“This would have to be purchased on the wholesale market at a huge cost.

In his article, Mr Armitage outlined a three-step plan that the Government should implement.

Mr Armitage suggested that his plan would assist in reducing the country’s exposure to wholesale energy prices.

Ultimately, the Government would be able to bring bills under control and become more energy secure.

Initially, according to Mr Armitage, the Government should increase the volume of gas extracted in UK waters.

The analyst claims that the recent approval of six new licences for extraction in the North Sea were encouraging.

However, he noted: “A greater sense of mission is required to meet the scale of the deteriorating situation.

“Every sinew should be strained in Whitehall to issue more of them, which could be made conditional on a proportion of the gas extracted from new fields being earmarked for the UK.”

In addition, Mr Armitage highlighted the additional costs placed on energy bills as “no longer sustainable”.

He said that this includes the environmental, social, and VAT costs, which now amount for 30 percent of an average electricity bill and 7 percent for a gas bill.

5) Boris could ‘ease off’ Net Zero target to counter Russia threat
Daily Mail, 7 March 2022

Tory MPs are urging Boris Johnson to dramatically ramp up the UK’s domestic gas production and to re-examine his Net Zero by 2050 plan after the Ukraine crisis rocked energy markets.

Conservative backbenchers believe the Russian invasion has ‘materially changed’ the energy picture and ministers should be doing ‘everything we can to produce as much energy domestically as possible’.

Tory MPs are pushing the Government to increase the UK’s production of oil and gas, and to reverse a moratorium it has placed on domestic fracking.

Mr Johnson reportedly believes the West should be given a temporary ‘climate change pass’ and increase its production of gas to rob Vladimir Putin of the energy ‘leverage’ he has over Europe.

A Government source told The Times: ‘The Prime Minister has been very clear that one of the massive problems is the leverage that Putin has over a number of European countries over gas and oil.

‘We have to address this over the short term, mid term and long term. The Prime Minister is interested in giving the gas industry a climate pass in the transition to nuclear and renewables.’

Another source told Politico that countries could give themselves a ‘pass’ which would see them temporarily ‘easing off Net Zero’ targets.

The UK has committed to hitting Net Zero emissions by 2050 and there have been no signs the Government is poised to relax or scrap the target – despite mounting pressure from Tory MPs for a rethink.

The Ukraine crisis is expected to worsen the cost of living crisis in the UK which was already spiraling before Russia launched its invasion.

Mr Johnson is under growing pressure from Conservative MPs to boost the UK’s domestic energy production to ease pressure on households.

Some Tory MPs want the Government to reverse its opposition to commercial fracking so the UK can exploit its shale gas reserves and reduce reliance on foreign gas supplies.

Nearly 40 MPs and peers in the Tory Net Zero Security Group are writing to the Prime Minister to urge him to stop the UK’s only two shale gas wells being concreted over within the next ten days.

Craig Mackinlay, chairman of the group – which was set up to scrutinise the Government’s plans to hit climate change targets – called on Mr Johnson to pause an Oil and Gas Authority (OGA) order that the two sites in Lancashire be plugged by March 15.

Tory MPs have warned the ban on fracking is ‘total lunacy’ in the light of the events in Ukraine.

Marcus Fysh told MailOnline: ‘The situation has materially changed and we need to do everything we can to produce as much energy domestically as possible, including relatively clean fossil fuel energy such as gas.’

Mr Fysh said the Government’s Net Zero plan must be ‘looked at again’ to take into account the impact of the Ukraine crisis on energy markets.

Former minister Steve Baker said: ‘Even with our Net Zero transition we will be burning gas for years.

‘We should be doing everything we can with the vigour of a national war effort to make sure that gas is not Putin’s.’

There have been some suggestions in Whitehall that the Government could pump more oil and gas from the North Sea but Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon is opposed to such a move.

Tory former minister John Redwood told the BBC’s Westminster Hour programme that the UK should boost its domestic gas production.

He said: ‘I agree with the European Union and other advocates of the green transition that gas is the transition fuel, better than coal for example.

‘And you have to accept that this is going to be the decade of gas. We are not ready yet to have enough renewables in a form that can work for industry and heating homes because people haven’t installed electric heating, they haven’t bought electric vehicles.

‘So this decade we still need to be able to fuel the vehicles and fuel the homes and fuel industry above all that relies very heavily on gas.

‘I am putting in this plea that we can both collect a lot more tax and create less CO2 if we have more of our own gas. It seems a very easy proposition and some of that could be on-shore.’

Mr Johnson is facing growing political pressure over the Government’s Net Zero push amid fears the green drive will hit consumers in the pocket.

Nigel Farage, the former Brexit Party leader, recently announced he is launching a political movement to campaign for a referendum on the policy.

6) Boris Johnson’s call to relax green target
The Times, 7 March 2022

Boris Johnson believes the West should be given a “climate change pass” to help wean the EU off Russian gas supplies as he faces mounting pressure over the government’s 2050 net-zero target.

The Times has been told that Johnson wants the West, particularly the US and Canada, to ramp up its own production of gas to help remove the “massive leverage” Russia has over EU countries.

While retaining the government’s target, Johnson is understood to believe that western countries should be able to increase gas production during the transition to nuclear and renewables. It came as Nigel Farage, the former Ukip leader, announced that he is launching a political movement to campaign for a referendum on the net-zero policy.

A government source said: “The prime minister has been very clear that one of the massive problems is the leverage that Putin has over a number of European countries over gas and oil.

“We have to address this over the short term, mid term and long term. The prime minister is interested in giving the gas industry a climate pass in the transition to nuclear and renewables.” Johnson hinted at the approach during an interview with the Italian newspaper La Repubblica and the German publication Die Welt last week.

“We need a collective European strategy and a western strategy to diversify away from this dependence,” he said. “There are other sources . . . in North America, in Canada, in the Gulf.”

Liz Truss, the foreign secretary, suggested at the G7 meeting in Brussels on Friday that a ceiling be imposed on imports of Russian coal, oil and gas which comes down over time. She believes that the “long-term defence of freedom is worth short-term economic pain”.

Germany gets two thirds of its gas from Russia. It recently announced that it is shelving the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline from Russia to Germany.

In The Mail on Sunday, Farage announced a campaign group, Britain Means Business. He said: “Without any debate, our energy bills have been loaded with green subsidies. Our businesses have been disadvantaged, yet our leaders seem happy to outsource industrial production just as long as they can say it reduces CO2 emissions.

“We will campaign for the 5 per cent VAT on energy bills to be removed.

“Green subsidies are shovelled straight into the bank accounts of rich landowners, wealthy investors and foreign-owned conglomerates who own much of the renewable energy sector.” Many Tory MPs have significant concerns about the cost of net zero.

Thirty-four Tory MPs urged the prime minister to reverse plans to seal two shale gas wells, insisting that Britain must secure its energy independence. Cuadrilla is due to concrete over its wells in Lancashire on March 15.

In their letter to Johnson, the MPs state: “We urge you to pause and conduct a review. At a time of such geopolitical strife, we cannot refrain from actions that would improve the position of the UK and its allies. We have seen how a reliance on imported gas affects the responses of other countries during the initial stages of Russian aggression.” The intervention was organised by Craig Mackinlay and Steve Baker of the Net Zero Scrutiny Group.

Full story

7) Fracking could return as firms research methods to reduce earthquakes amid energy fears
The Daily Telegraph, 7 March 2022

A 2019 moratorium on existing fracking methods has led to sites being filled in but the regulator is under pressure to reverse orders

Fracking could return to the UK as firms look for methods to reduce the earthquakes it causes, the chief executive of Britain’s oil and gas regulator has revealed, amid fears about Europe’s energy security following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Dr Andy Samuel, who leads the Oil and Gas Authority (OGA), said at least one firm is hoping to resume fracking with new techniques that could avoid tremors of above 0.5 on the Richter scale, the current limit.A 2019 moratorium on existing fracking methods has led to sites being filled in with concrete and concern that Britain’s underground gas reserves may never be extracted for fuel.

The regulator is under pressure to reverse an order to fill in two fracking wells in Lancashire next week, with MPs arguing that the sites have not reached the end of their useful life and could be used to improve the UK’s energy security.

Although it produces a domestic gas supply, fracking is unpopular with the public and has prompted safety concerns over damage to buildings and water pollution.

But in an interview with The Daily Telegraph, Dr Samuel, who is leaving his post at the end of this year, suggested the technique could return in years to come.”We’ve left the door open to industry, and one operator is wanting to kind of progress the science, and try and understand if there is a way that it could be done without exceeding the seismic event limits,” he said.

Ministers have not ruled out the prospect of more fracking in the future if they are presented with evidence that tremors can be kept to a minimum. However, they have been keen to stress that they have no plans to lift the fracking moratorium, and that any new developments would take at least a decade to set up.

Tremor-free extraction

Dr Samuel, who previously managed the extraction of shale gas in the Marcellus Formation in the north-east of the United States for BG Group, was sceptical about the possibility of new methods for tremor-free extraction being developed soon.

“This is not easy geology, to completely understand the faults that are causing it below seismic resolution,” he said.“From what we’ve seen in geology and the bar that needs to be crossed, it will be a long way off.”MPs have questioned the decision to set the limit for tremors at 0.5 on the Richter scale – four times lower than the limit in the US.

An OGA report found that, at worst, the tremors had caused “slight non-structural” damage to buildings near a fracking site.

“We ended support for fracking because it is not currently possible to accurately predict the probability and severity of earthquakes associated with the process,” a Whitehall source said.“It remains our position that fracking will not be allowed to proceed unless compelling new scientific evidence on its safety is provided.”

Dr Samuel’s intervention comes after MPs urged the Government to reconsider its effective ban, and called for a reversal of the OGA’s order for two sites run by Cuadrilla in Lancashire to be filled in with concrete.“At a time of such geopolitical strife, we cannot refrain from actions that would improve the position of the UK and its allies,” 34 Conservative MPs and peers said in a letter to Boris Johnson on Sunday.

Although the UK imports less than five per cent of its gas from Russia, the EU receives about 40 per cent from the country, making it vulnerable to Vladimir Putin shutting off pipelines.

Full story

8) Steve Hilton: How orgy of green virtue-signalling lined Putin’s pocket
Daily Mail, 7 March 2022

By Steve Hilton, Former Director of Strategy for David Cameron

Politicians from all parties have indulged in an orgy of green virtue-signalling, implementing self-harming, counter-productive policies such as Boris Johnson’s ban on fracking for shale gas, with no serious thought given to the long-term consequences.

Europe’s dependence on Russia for around 40 per cent of the continent’s gas supplies isn’t some kind of natural phenomenon; it’s a conscious political choice.

As recently as 2010, EU countries actually produced more gas than Russia exported.

But, by 2020, the positions had completely reversed, with Russia exporting nearly three times more gas than Europe produced. Why? Because, being in thrall to the green dogma that has captured the Establishment the world over, European countries cut back on fossil-fuel production.

Energy security was sacrificed on the altar of ‘decarbonisation’ – even if that meant reducing production and the storage of reliable lower-carbon energy sources such as natural gas, or most preposterously, a policy towards zero-carbon nuclear power, which meant it was completely shut down in Germany and left to atrophy in the UK.

Of course none of this is to argue against the environmental cause: After all, I was the author of David Cameron’s ‘Vote Blue Go Green’ message.

A sensible environmentalism, with a focus on conservation and a responsibly managed transition to cleaner energy – in particular one that protects consumers from soaring bills – is something most people would support. However, that’s far from what we’ve seen.

Instead, politicians from all parties have indulged in an orgy of green virtue-signalling, implementing self-harming, counter-productive policies such as Boris Johnson’s ban on fracking for shale gas, with no serious thought given to the long-term consequences.

In truth, it’s even more cynical than that. Desperate to win the plaudits of green activists, these politicians recklessly cut back on their own countries’ energy production and filled the gap not with the much-vaunted ‘wind ‘n solar’ (both are too unreliable), but by importing dirtier fuels from other countries (such as Russia) that are unencumbered by the ‘climate’ zealotry relentlessly pushed by pressure groups and some in the media in the West.

Even more embarrassingly for our idiotic establishment, it turns out that those activists and their media campaigns have been funded by – wait for it – Putin!

That’s not some wild conspiracy theory: It’s Nato’s view.

Former Nato secretary general Anders Fogh Rasmussen said in 2014: ‘Russia, as part of its sophisticated information and disinformation operations, engaged actively with so-called non-governmental organisations – environmental organisations working against shale gas – to maintain dependence on imported Russian gas.’

And, in the same year, former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spoke about ‘phony environment groups funded by Russians to stand against’ energy initiatives such as fracking. In sum, Western leaders handed Putin massive geo-political leverage by making their people dependent on his gas – and were responding to activist campaigns that he had partly funded. How utterly perverse!

And look where that leaves us today. Even as Putin unleashes hell on innocent Ukrainians; as we witness scenes of inhumanity of a nature and on a scale not seen in Europe since the Second World War…

Putin’s oil and gas now flows uninterrupted to Europe, while £500million flows uninterrupted every day from Europe to Russia to pay for it. After the invasion, the amount of Russian gas exported to Europe through Ukraine actually went up – by 38 per cent. The price has since risen further, adding to the money ending up in Kremlin coffers.

So, when our leaders say ‘we’re doing everything we can to help Ukraine’, that’s a lie.

Rather than weaning ourselves off Russia’s oil and gas, we are funding Putin’s war machine. And we’re doing so because a bunch of pompous politicians, puffed up with pretensions of saving the planet, wanted pats on the back from extremist ‘climate’ zealots.

Ever since taking over the White House, President Joe Biden has fought a non-stop war on American energy production.

Under his predecessor President Donald Trump’s strong support for domestic natural gas production, the US achieved an enviable double whammy. It became self-sufficient (and, indeed, a net exporter for the first time in more than 70 years), as well as reducing carbon emissions.

By contrast, Biden has shut pipelines, withdrawn exploration licences, and most shockingly, at the exact moment he and his officials were talking up ‘massive sanctions’ against Putin if he went ahead with the invasion that they said was certain to happen, another part of Biden’s administration announced new regulations that would give Putin even more leverage over global energy supplies.

In the name of fighting climate change, Biden refuses to increase US production, which might give supplies to Europe to help it escape Putin’s energy stranglehold (as well as lowering prices for consumers in America).

Biden’s administration, instead, is begging Saudi Arabia and other members of the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) to produce more oil and are even finalising a revived Iran nuclear deal that will put Iranian oil into the world market.

The US President’s new ‘climate’ policy seems to be: Oil is good, unless it’s American. In normal circumstances this could be dismissed as mere political hypocrisy and double-speak.

But we’re not in normal circumstances. We’re in the middle of the most threatening conflict in Europe since 1945 and could be on the brink of nuclear confrontation.

It is therefore unconscionable that Western politicians are not doing everything in their power to stop Putin. Of course there is no guarantee that a total boycott of Russian energy would change this evil tyrant’s calculations. But it is truly revolting that our leaders are not even trying.

For all their noble words about standing up for Ukraine, their obsession with net zero and continuing willingness to pay Moscow £500million a day makes them Putin’s stooges and enablers of the horror unfolding before our eyes.

9) Bjorn Lomborg: How can Europe stop using Russian gas? Nuclear power and fracking
Dallas News, 7 March 2022

The devastating Russian invasion of Ukraine has captured global attention. While the world’s focus is rightly on the human toll and suffering, the crisis has highlighted the need to end reliance on Russian oil and gas. To achieve that ambition, we must be pragmatic and invest in sensible alternatives, not engage in wishful thinking about renewable energy.

Every single day, the world spends more than a billion dollars on fossil fuels from Russia, according to Bloomberg reporting. As Ukrainian Foreign Affairs Minister Dmytro Kuleba tweeted, that money is now paying for the “murder of Ukrainian men, women and children.” We must end this reliance.

However, this has proved to be easier said than done: Over dozens of years, the world has exchanged trillions of dollars for fossil fuels from the Soviet Union and now from Russia. Our continued use of Kremlin-backed oil and gas reveals two inconvenient truths.

First, reliable energy maintains the foundation of modern society and few are willing to give up its benefits. Access to cheap, abundant and dependable energy has been the cornerstone of the industrial revolution and humanity’s achievements.

Second, we have been sold a largely untrue story that renewables can give us energy independence. Campaigners and governments have promoted the idea that renewables could replace fossil fuels and still provide cheap, abundant and reliable energy, which would crucially deliver energy security while solving the challenge of global warming. The Russian invasion has exploded this myth and revealed it as nothing more than wishful thinking — especially for the European Union.

For decades, the EU has said that renewables can deliver energy security because this can be produced at home, and does not need to be imported. But key renewables solar and wind are unreliable because they work only when the sun is shining or the wind is blowing. To achieve reliable power 24/7, solar and wind need backup provided by gas. Thus, the EU’s green energy policy contributes to it paying Russia more than half a billion dollars each day, mostly for fossil fuels and especially gas, to provide a backstop for European solar and wind.

Solar and wind campaigners claim that batteries can be game changers when the sun isn’t shining and wind isn’t blowing. In truth, all the batteries in Europe could store power for just 1 minute and 21 seconds of the continent’s average electricity demand — after that we’re back to relying mostly on fossil fuel backup. For comparison, in winter Germany experiences wind lulls lasting more than five days.

Moreover, electricity makes up just a fifth of Europe’s overall energy consumption, nearly three-quarters of which is met by gas and other fossil fuels. Despite the hype, solar and wind deliver less than 4% of Europe’s total energy. When German Chancellor Scholz insists renewables will make Germany “independent and less susceptible to blackmail” he is missing the point, because inefficient solar and wind don’t avoid cold homes. Electricity delivers only a tiny part of heating, with gas providing almost 40%, according to Eurostat.

Much more of Europe’s energy for heat comes from the world’s oldest energy source, burning wood. While in principle wood is renewable, increasing the amount of forests being cut down can have a huge impact on biodiversity. Moreover, wood emits more carbon dioxide than coal when burned, and it is often imported and transported on diesel ships from the U.S. Reuters reported that currently more than half of the EU’s total renewable energy comes from burning wood pellets.

The takeaway is that we need better alternatives to Russian oil. Germany just shut down three nuclear power plants and will be shutting down three more by the end of the year. But shutting down such existing nuclear power plants is plain dumb. All the big costs have already been incurred, so keeping them running not only delivers energy independence but provides incredibly cheap, reliable and carbon-dioxide-free power.

Europe should also reconsider producing its own natural gas through fracking, like the US did. It has plenty of potential sites in Poland, France and Romania. Fracking could deliver cheap energy, complete energy independence. The technology has reduced U.S. emissions dramatically. While there are genuine concerns around fracking, most can be addressed with good regulation.

Unfortunately, most of Europe has rejected fracking because of exaggerated fears, spread with financial help from Russia. Yet, U.S. studies clearly show the overall benefits from fracking vastly outweigh additional costs.

To achieve true independence, we need to look further and study realistic alternatives. We must demand more than breezy aspirations for more solar and wind. We need to invest in research and development across a wide range of potential energy sources. For example, while building more of the current third-generation nuclear technology would deliver safe and reliable energy, construction is too expensive. Research and development of fourth-generation nuclear technology could potentially let us generate massive amounts of power at low cost.

Concerted research will not only deliver needed energy independence but will also offer a realistic solution to the long-term climate problem. This research will take time, so for the short run, fracking is the most pragmatic option. With sensible regulations, following the U.S. example could generate plentiful, cheap gas and huge economic benefits, while reducing emissions. Crucially, in the shadow of Putin’s war, this could be a relatively quick and realistic way for Europe to move toward energy independence.