To: Ursula von der Leyen
Rue de la Loi / Wetstraat 200
Rue de la Loi / Wetstraat 200
Rue de la Loi/Wetstraat 175
Dear Mrs. von der Leyen, Mr. Timmermans, Mr. Michel,
My name is Svitlana Romanko, and I am a Ukrainian environmental lawyer, and Founder and Director of Razom We Stand (RazomWeStand.org), a group focusing on efforts to lock Russian fossil fuels permanently in the ground, encourage climate action and promote green and sustainable rebuilding of Ukraine.
A year ago, in the aftermath of first month of Russian invasion and mass murders of civilians in Bucha and Irpin, the EU has pledged to urgently address it’s dependency on gas imports and focus the cooperation with US on building a greener future with climate neutrality:
“The US and the European Union have not only worked closely together on designing an effective and determined response to Russia's war, but we are also supporting each other in the transition towards green energy”, - said President von der Leyen.
Today I write to request support for critical issues related to resilience of energy supply in Ukraine and the critical role of decentralized renewables for energy security. The European Unions’ continued and valued support can help Ukraine both to withstand ongoing attacks on our infrastructure and to transform post-war Ukraine into a clean energy model nation that can show real potential of the European Green Deal in action.
Our NGO was formed last year in response to Russian aggression and as a successor to the Stand With Ukraine campaign, which has united under more than 860 organizations and groups from 60 countries of the world to fight Russia on the energy front. We strive to promote war-pace deployment of renewable energy sources, which is needed to create real energy security for Europe and support Ukraine’s economic recovery.
We understand that the success of the European Green Deal and the goal of making Europe the first climate-neutral continent will depend significantly on Ukraine’s contribution and its advance in energy and environmental reforms. In this context consistency with climate goals of EU's current and future support for Ukraine’s resilience and recovery plays a critical role for Europe as a whole.
Having this in mind, we call on the European Commission and Member States to stay true to pledges made last year and address four outstanding issues:
First, the EU should do more to change the energy security narrative, that still centers on imports of fossil gas, and instead should put emphasis on accelerated transition to clean energy. Overdependence on gas imports has created major threats to Europe’s security and contributed to war in Ukraine. Energy price spikes and the cost of living crisis can’t be solved with more gas. We know that gas prices will stay volatile and unpredictable, as autocrats who control supplies will continue to destabilize energy markets and use fossil gas as a weapon. In contrast, renewable energy sources, like solar and wind power, provide predictable and stable prices. Rapid deployment of renewables is the only solution that can provide universal energy access and geopolitical security. It is also a remedy that Ukraine needs urgently now.
Second, we request that the EU more actively invest in renewable energy infrastructure, and halt any expansion of gas infrastructure. EU climate targets can only be met with a reduction in gas demand of at least 35 percent compared with 2019 levels by 2030. In broader consideration, expanding gas export and import infrastructure makes no sense at the time when the world needs to move rapidly away from fossil fuels to stop massively expensive destructive impacts of climate change, which are costing trillions. Today it is nothing else but a frivolous waste of public money to support investments in gas infrastructure, when over the long term gas demand is falling as cheaper renewable energy production booms.
Third, we are dismayed by the fact that in 2022 Russian liquified natural gas production grew by 8% and, contrary to the sanctions, Russia has expanded shipments of LNG to Europe up to 15 TWh per month. This amount can potentially double if Russia succeeds with the Arctic LNG-2 construction project, which involves European companies. In particular, it was reported that publicly listed company Gaztransport & Technigaz, the world’s key LNG engineering firm that is based in France, is still involved in construction of two specialized ice-class Arc7 LNG tankers for Russia and two critically important floating storage units that would enable expansion of exports. The ongoing collaboration of EU-based companies with Russia in the LNG sector helps to fund the aggressor's efforts to further brutalize Ukraine. We need your bold action to defuse Russian LNG expansion plans. Don’t allow Russia to take Europe hostage again with a third “Nord Stream”.
Finally, we need the EU to support efforts to make Ukraine's energy infrastructure more resilient using decentralized renewable energy. Like other European countries, Ukraine cannot rely on imports of fossil fuels. Nuclear power is not safe from Russian aggression, too expensive and is too long to build. Ukraine has abundant sources of renewable energy, and active support from the EU to transition to a renewable energy future will be critical to Ukraine’s recovery. With 40% of Ukraine's energy infrastructure destroyed over the past year, and an urgent need to provide new sources for resilient and reliable energy supply, this is a moment for transformational change.
By 2030, according to the International Renewable Energy Agency, the world will need to invest at least $5.7 trillion in renewables every year if we are to avoid catastrophic runaway climate change and reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050. This is five times more than was invested globally in 2021.
Recent research findings by the Institute of Economics and Forecasting of National Academy of Sciences shows that annual expenditures under the climate neutrality scenario for Ukraine are estimated to be only 5.1% higher compared to the reference pathway with continued reliance on fossil fuel infrastructure, excluding externalities of fossil fuel use and co-benefits of the energy transition. When we take into account the need for climate change mitigation, national and regional energy security considerations, as well as health and occupational safety benefits, rapid energy transition to clean energy in Ukraine represents a major beneficial opportunity in all aspects.
Collectively, the EU, US and Ukraine need to work together to ensure that investments in renewable energy sources increase and become sufficient to eventually displace fossil fuels from the energy mix of Ukraine and Europe.
Myself and our team at Razom We Stand are ready to communicate, support and mainstream related policies and facilitate interaction of all actors working on solutions for energy independence of Ukraine and Europe, transition to clean energy and countering Russia's energy terror. We look forward to hearing back from you about how we can cooperate with the European Commission and EU institutions to make this happen.
70 Sichovykh Striltsiv