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How can European leaders reimagine an energy system in crisis?

Europe is struggling through energy, climate and cost-of-living crises while Russia’s war drags on. The way forward is a rapid redesign of how the continent produces, supplies and consumes energy — and a full system approach for navigating the coming winter and decarbonizing Europe.

HARSH REALITIES AND HIGH PRICES IN EUROPE

The EU, US and UK have responded to Russia’s war with increasing sanctions, including restrictions on Russian fossil fuel imports. The European Union committed to cut its reliance on Russian gas by more than 60% by the end of the year, and accelerate plans to achieve fossil-fuel independence from Russia by 2030.

The energy supply gap, made worse by Russia’s weaponization of its fossil fuel resources, spells a bleak winter for Europe. States are scrambling to ration gas as more households and small businesses fall into energy poverty. Prices, cost of living and inflation are up; the value of the euro is down. More job losses are imminent as recession looms.

The case for a global energy transition is more solid now than before the invasion. Once we are on the other side of the current Russian blackmail, no one will want to be [held] hostage again.

– Christiana Figueres, founder, Global Optimism; former executive secretary, UN Framework Convention on Climate Change

Political leaders are understandably focused on the short term, but stopgap solutions must be sustainable in the long term. Will the continent move closer to, or further from, a clean energy future?

AN APPROACH TO REIMAGINING EUROPE’S ENERGY SYSTEM

A cost-of-living crisis in Europe. An existential climate threat.

Our need for energy is central to both.

From individual consumers to energy suppliers, young people to policymakers, frontline workers to financiers — everyone has a stake in Europe’s energy future. Securing our future requires a commitment to open dialogue and a willingness to dream and create together.

This is a critical moment for the whole system to come together, as the world grapples with oil and gas supply-demand imbalance and European states make a permanent move away from Russian energy sources.

European leaders have a choice: mobilize whole-of-system support around the highest priority policy reforms, corporate norms, innovation opportunities and community- and country-level actions — or don’t.

A full system approach would bring all strengths to the table and create space for ideas, raised ambition and collective action.

We have a choice between our best world, which we have to hurry to, and our worst world. Every report now is very grim because we are heading in the wrong direction, but we can change.

– Mary Robinson, former president of Ireland; chair, The Elders

FINDING COMMON GROUND

There is consensus across Europe: common ground for an urgent agenda.

To save lives and small businesses, European policymakers must ensure affordable access to energy in the immediate term.

As Russia’s war demonstrates, it is in Europe’s long-term interest to decouple its energy system from geopolitical uncertainty, localize supply chains and rapidly scale up renewables. And leaders can go further: finally, Europe could commit to phasing out the use of all fossil fuels, while prioritizing a just transition for impacted workers and communities. Globally, the switch from fossil fuels to renewable energy could save the world as much as $12 trillion by 2050, says a new Oxford University study.

Progress is made together. The future is built together. Join Europe's Energy Earthshot on October 26-28, 2022.

LEADER INSIGHTS

Jesper Brodin,
CEO, Ingka Group (IKEA)

Nobody can do everything, but if all of us do something we can have a big impact together.

Yvon Chouinard,
founder, Patagonia

If we have any hope of a thriving planet – much less a business – it is going to take all of us doing what we can do with the resources we have.

QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER

How can European business leaders work alongside policymakers and all stakeholders to co-create a clean energy future?

What investments and technologies are needed to scale clean energy generation and infrastructure?

What are the biggest barriers to Europe’s energy transformation? What will it take to remove or progress around them?

AN APPROACH TO REIMAGINING EUROPE’S ENERGY SYSTEM

A cost-of-living crisis in Europe. An existential climate threat.

Our need for energy is central to both.

From individual consumers to energy suppliers, young people to policymakers, frontline workers to financiers — everyone has a stake in Europe’s energy future. Securing our future requires a commitment to open dialogue and a willingness to dream and create together.

This is a critical moment for the whole system to come together, as the world grapples with oil and gas supply-demand imbalance and European states make a permanent move away from Russian energy sources.

European leaders have a choice: mobilize whole-of-system support around the highest priority policy reforms, corporate norms, innovation opportunities and community- and country-level actions — or don’t.

A full system approach would bring all strengths to the table and create space for ideas, raised ambition and collective action.

We have a choice between our best world, which we have to hurry to, and our worst world. Every report now is very grim because we are heading in the wrong direction, but we can change.

– Mary Robinson, former president of Ireland; chair, The Elders

FINDING COMMON GROUND

There is consensus across Europe: common ground for an urgent agenda.

To save lives and small businesses, European policymakers must ensure affordable access to energy in the immediate term.

As Russia’s war demonstrates, it is in Europe’s long-term interest to decouple its energy system from geopolitical uncertainty, localize supply chains and rapidly scale up renewables. And leaders can go further: finally, Europe could commit to phasing out the use of all fossil fuels, while prioritizing a just transition for impacted workers and communities. Globally, the switch from fossil fuels to renewable energy could save the world as much as $12 trillion by 2050, says a new Oxford University study.

Let’s incentivize energy efficiency and clean energy generation, technology and infrastructure, super-charging innovation and investment. The Inflation Reduction Act in the U.S. and the European Council’s RePowerEU plan are a good start — but only a start.

The clean energy revolution must be accelerated by every Western country, so that we’re no longer dependent on fossil fuels. This, too, will dramatically reduce what everyone is paying for their fuel.

– Sir Richard Branson, founder, Virgin Group; co-founder, The B Team

To live and work well, and within our means, let’s embrace the shift to sustainable living and workplace sustainability.

9x

higher gas prices in Europe this year

7%

cost-of-living increase for the average European household

40% less

to build new onshore wind & solar than coal or gas plants

AN INVITATION TO JOIN EUROPE’S ENERGY EARTHSHOT

Europe has the tools to rapidly decarbonize. Its leaders have the capacity to act, but do they have the will? They must.

On October 26-28, diverse stakeholders from across Europe will gather virtually for Europe’s Energy Earthshot, a whole-of-system, strengths-based approach to securing the continent’s energy future. Leaders will dream bigger, lead with their strengths and act collectively.

Register your interest by completing this form or emailing gaia@energyearthshot.eu.

Each of us has a stake in Europe’s energy future — and the strength to shape it.

– Halla Tómasdóttir, CEO, The B Team

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