As the Russian-Ukrainian crisis worsened, the countries of the European Union, in particular Germany, were of the opinion that they had to work on constructive rather than destructive solutions in order not to harm the policies of struggle against climate change. The Russian authorities, on the other hand, did not believe that it was possible for Germany to give up Russian natural gas resources for the next five to ten years and they expected that the Nord Stream 2 line, completed but not commissioning the operation because it was not approved, would be made functional in some way, even if not in the short term.
Unlike France, Germany, which has taken many steps to eliminate nuclear and coal from its energy mix, can be expected to need natural gas resources in the transition to a green economy. Moreover, it is a valid proposition not only for Germany but also for the whole of the EU, as well as for countries that follow similar policies. In fact, experts do not see a downward trend in EU natural gas consumption over the next 10 to 15 years, on the contrary, they predict that natural gas will become an increasingly important element in the transition period as it meets the 2050 carbon neutrality target. In addition, the EU, whose natural gas production is gradually decreasing under environmental regulations, will have to meet this need with even more gas imports.
The assessments made by the US Energy Information Administration (EIA) of the region’s energy prospects are quite remarkable. In 2020, 80% of EU and UK natural gas needs were met by the US through natural gas pipelines and liquefied natural gas (LNG) imports. Considering that 10 years ago this figure was 65%, it seems possible to say that natural gas is used as a transition tool to eliminate the use of coal within the framework of climate change policies.
Moreover, looking at the details of the figures, natural gas imported into the region via pipelines in 2020 accounted for 74% of all natural gas imports, while supply via LNG accounted for the remaining 26% of total imports. In this regard, we see that the EU needs to ensure that gas pipelines are functioning in a healthy way in order to meet natural gas needs in the current economic climate.
Dependence on natural gas
In the light of these data, it seems possible to say that the EU needs Russian and Azerbaijani natural gas to ensure security of energy supply in the short term. Of course, at this stage, after the announcement by the United States that it would help the EU much more to meet its energy needs, it would be useful to follow developments closely. In addition to the sanctions imposed by the EU and the United States against Russia, the fact that major oil companies such as BP and Shell have ended their cooperation with their Russian partners – risking losses of a billion dollars – and that investment funds have abandoned their investments in Russian companies, show us that it will not be easy to interpret future developments. This suggests that the green transformation could be happening faster than expected.
Some time ago, the EU signed a decision that will lead to a change in climate change policies for the reasons mentioned above. In order to contribute to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, the European Commission has recently decided to qualify investments in nuclear energy and natural gas as sustainable, provided that they meet certain criteria, as well as the renewable sources such as wind and solar, thereby encouraging investment in these areas. Although this decision is considered contradictory within the framework of the EU’s commitments to multilateral climate diplomacy, the objective of making the EU economy carbon neutral by 2050 and the European Green Deal, The European Commission has announced that it aims to ease the burden that difficult transition to a green economy will place on union members.
Experts who support the decision say the proposed regulation will encourage member states and investors to make long-awaited and suspended investments in Europe’s nuclear energy infrastructure, thus contributing to the exit from the energy crisis and the foreign dependence, while those who oppose the decision argue that the commission will consider natural gas and nuclear energy as carbon neutral and consider them a serious policy risk. The final decision on the commission’s proposal will be taken by member states and the European Parliament within the next six months.
climate change test
We express on all platforms that climate change is an issue that affects us all and will negatively affect everyone, regardless of their country. In this regard, Russia, which is on the other side of the coin, will have to realize that it cannot continue to adopt a growth model based on natural gas resources. In fact, due to the increase in global temperature, it is estimated that the capacity of the soil to support existing buildings in the northern regions of Russia will decrease by a third by 2050 and there will be a massive infrastructure disaster that could cause an estimated $132 billion in economic loss. On the other hand, the anthrax released by the melting of the soils in the regions where record temperatures have been observed in recent years stands before us as one of the natural disasters that we may see in the future and poses serious public health risks if precautions are not taken. taken.
It is clear that climate change investments in Russia, which has been excluded from the international financial system following the imposed sanctions, will also be affected by the developments. The announcement by the multilateral development banks of the one-by-one halt to their investments and programs in Russia will be a major obstacle to Russia’s investments in the face of the risks it will face due to climate change. This will cause Russia to find it difficult to borrow from international markets to implement its projects, therefore, it will slow down or completely stop the Russian green transformation. Actors who cannot make sustainable investments at affordable costs will turn to alternatives such as natural gas which is abundantly available locally.
According to the evolution of the crisis between Russia and Ukraine, just as all countries have increased their investments and expenditure on health during the period of the global pandemic, experts expect countries to redirect their expenditure towards defence, nuclear and renewable energies over the coming period in the context of the current situation. However, it would be undesirable for countries to redirect their budgetary resources to other areas while increasing the currently insufficient financial resources for the climate. Considering that the EU is the largest contributor to climate finance, the EU’s allocation of part of its budget to the areas of defense and nuclear energy to deal with the risk of Russia will deal a blow major contribution to the fight against the climate crisis, not just regionally but globally.
A key solution
All these developments show us that the so-called “soft power” method in the international relations literature can be applied in the period to come. To explain, soft power can be characterized as the ability of an actor to persuade another actor to comply with their demands without resorting to force or coercion. Today, many countries use this tool to achieve their national interests through multilateral dialogue and cooperation.
When country leaders and statesmen come together at meetings or summits such as the G-7 and G-20, they include climate change on their agenda, in addition to the issues they discuss like terrorism, migration and trade. So much so that it would not be wrong to say that the climate crisis is one of the most important items on the agenda of these meetings in recent times. In this context, an approach in which no party is left behind and a country that insists on staying behind the disadvantage on the international stage is adopted in the climate negotiations. Thus, all parties must take action to combat climate change and work towards cooperation.
In this respect, the UN conferences on climate change are of great importance in conducting international relations with sound diplomacy established within the framework of international law. In fact, in the past, we have witnessed that in the negotiations before the Paris agreement, which took place during the heated debates between Russia and Ukraine, the two countries acted jointly through the group of negotiation and conducted their diplomatic relations in coordination. Likewise, we observed that they cooperated on climate change as diplomatic tensions continued due to the mismatch of economic interests between the United States and China. Therefore, climate change conferences under the aegis of the UN, where all countries seek a common way to deal with the risks they face, are one of the platforms that can be used for the establishment of diplomatic relations in the Russian-Ukrainian crisis.
As President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said, Turkey, which believes that disputes between countries should be resolved through international diplomacy, believes that the problem of climate change is one of the most important problems facing humanity. is confronted. Ankara believes that at international meetings, especially the UN climate summit, all countries should work together in coordination to deal with this problem which requires urgent action. Climate change is not specific to individuals, countries or regions; we must remember that it makes no distinction between race, religion, language and nationality. We must devote all our efforts to fighting climate change while solving our problems diplomatically. For this reason, climate change, which is a common concern for all, will remind countries how important unity and solidarity are and that there is only one earth.