EU and Russian Policies on Energy and Climate Change

18-12-2013

EU-Russian energy relations are characterised by mutual interdependence. Within the EU, however, the level of Member States’ dependence on Russia varies largely according to Member States’ abilities to diversify their energy mix and their imports. This has created a fragmented internal energy market, as demonstrated by the wide range in gas prices among Member States. Energy supply diversification has become a key concern for the entire EU, although energy policies are still largely overseen by Member States. While Russia is likely to remain Europe’s principal energy supplier in the medium term, the importance of other crude oil and natural gas exporters, including Azerbaijan and Algeria, is likely to grow. The European Commission supports widening the possible range of sources, particularly given its antitrust investigations against Russian companies, which have exacerbated tensions. The EU and Russia are also divided by their environmental policies, stemming from a different environmental sensibility but also from the different availability of fossil fuels. Fighting against climate change, the EU has committed to reduce its overall greenhouse gas emissions by 20 % by 2020. To fulfil this promise, the EU has relied on the EU Emission Trading System, currently the largest international carbon market. Unlike Europe and its ecological considerations, Moscow has long been driven by more economic and geostrategic factors. Despite Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev’s recent willingness to consider limiting carbon emissions and fostering investments in renewable sources, the country’s refusal to adhere to the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol and its environmentally unfriendly Arctic efforts confirm Moscow’s resistance to integrating climate issues in its policies.

EU-Russian energy relations are characterised by mutual interdependence. Within the EU, however, the level of Member States’ dependence on Russia varies largely according to Member States’ abilities to diversify their energy mix and their imports. This has created a fragmented internal energy market, as demonstrated by the wide range in gas prices among Member States. Energy supply diversification has become a key concern for the entire EU, although energy policies are still largely overseen by Member States. While Russia is likely to remain Europe’s principal energy supplier in the medium term, the importance of other crude oil and natural gas exporters, including Azerbaijan and Algeria, is likely to grow. The European Commission supports widening the possible range of sources, particularly given its antitrust investigations against Russian companies, which have exacerbated tensions. The EU and Russia are also divided by their environmental policies, stemming from a different environmental sensibility but also from the different availability of fossil fuels. Fighting against climate change, the EU has committed to reduce its overall greenhouse gas emissions by 20 % by 2020. To fulfil this promise, the EU has relied on the EU Emission Trading System, currently the largest international carbon market. Unlike Europe and its ecological considerations, Moscow has long been driven by more economic and geostrategic factors. Despite Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev’s recent willingness to consider limiting carbon emissions and fostering investments in renewable sources, the country’s refusal to adhere to the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol and its environmentally unfriendly Arctic efforts confirm Moscow’s resistance to integrating climate issues in its policies.