This Policy Brief analyses short- and long-term challenges of measures to limit dependence on Russian natural gas imports. The main challenge remains the accelerated implementation of climate policies, which must not be overshadowed by emergency measures with a transitory effect. In response to the social impact of the current crisis, it is also necessary to provide support to households and businesses for whom the cost of energy is becoming increasingly difficult to bear.
- Emissions reduction strategies at the European and Member State level, in particular the Fit for 55 package, are the main lever for reducing natural gas consumption by 2030. To eliminate dependence on Russian natural gas in the next decade, the implementation of these strategies must be accelerated, particularly in terms of building retrofitting.
- To address the new geopolitical context, additional measures to reduce Russian natural gas consumption more quickly can be adopted, through voluntary rationing of consumption and diversification of supplies. These levers can be deployed quickly, but are not medium- and long-term responses, for reasons of acceptability for consumption restrictions and cost for diversification of supplies.
- In the very short term, support for the most vulnerable households and companies should be proposed, with measures to compensate for the price increases observed. This support must be targeted, effective and reversible to ensure its effectiveness. They must be accompanied by policies to encourage the transition at the level of all actors, in particular through improvements in energy efficiency.
- Although technologies using electrolytic hydrogen are important for achieving climate neutrality, they do not represent a decisive solution by 2030. The available hydrogen will be limited in volume and can only replace a small part of the current uses of natural gas. Potential imports of hydrogen from outside Europe need to be evaluated in terms of their technical and economic feasibility and the new dependencies that could come up as a result.
- Strategies to diversify energy supplies in order to reduce the share of Russian natural gas must not lead to a lock-in of fossil fuel consumption in the medium and long term that would compromise the achievement of climate objectives.