The European Greens have called for an import ban on coal, oil and gas from Russia. Our strength in responding to Putins brutal and appealing attack in Ukraine lies in our unity. We are calling the European Union to react decisively. – says German MEP Henrike Hahn (Greens) in an interview with BiznesAlert.pl.
BiznesAlert.pl: Germany has announced that it will renounce imports of Russian coal, oil and gas in order to stop financing the Russian war machine. Are the timeframes announced by the German government in this area sufficient?
Henrike Hahn: Putins attack of Ukraine and the corresponding brutal evidence of war crimes has pushed the EU to take bold steps on energy sanctions. However imposing unified measures that could reduce, or fully cut, Russian energy supplies to the EU are a complex task as our current dependence on Russia in this matter varies across the Members States.
The German government checked very carefully the support of strong sanctions on Russian energy, as Russia provided roughly 55 percent of Germany’s natural gas imports, 35 percent of its oil imports and 50 percent of its hard coal imports for 2021.
In a recent statement German economy Minister Robert Habeck said that Germany had already reduced its share of Russian energy imports to 12 percent for oil, 8 percent for coal and 35 percent for natural gas.
The German government worked hard on it in the past to be able to support an import stop of Russisn oil that will not fail by Germany. In consequence, Germany is prepared to support a gradual European Union ban on Russian oil.
Germany will half its Russian oil imports by summer and stop by the end of this year. Gas will follow until probably mid-2024 in the context of a common European roadmap.
What solutions in the EU do the Greens support for renouncing Russian fossil fuels?
The European Greens have called for an import ban on coal, oil and gas from Russia. Our strength in responding to Putins brutal and appealing attack in Ukraine lies in our unity. We are calling the European Union to react decisively.
It cannot be that Mr Putin gets a huge amount of money from us every day for his fossil raw materials flushed into the war.
But of course, the negotiations at the level of the EU member states are challenging. We all are coming from different standpoints and have different approaches on energy supply, sensibilities and dependencies.
However action must be taken now, so we must at least create clarity on oil and coal. I therefore welcome the six package of sanctions as announced by the President of the European Commission last week. Last Wednesday, the 4th May the European Commission, has put forward new sanctions against the Kremlin which will include a six-month phase out of Russian crude imports. It will not be easy. Some Member States are strongly dependent on Russian oil. But we simply have to work on it. We now propose a ban on Russian oil. This will be a complete import ban on all Russian oil, seaborne and pipeline, crude and refined.
An oil boycott will hit the Russian economy hard. Oil, coal and gas drive the Russian economy. An oil boycott and the exclusion of Russia’s Sberbank from the SWIFT network are a clear signal of European solidarity with Ukraine and a message to the Russian president that the EU is serious about responding effectively to Russian aggression. An energy embargo must at the same time be accompanied by cushioning with a view to rising energy prices for the European industry and EU citizens.
Let’s hope we can implement this immediately, the alternatives are there. Such a measure would hit the Putin regime. It would hit Putin’s war machine hard and would be a first step towards a complete energy cut-off from Russia.
For us, the Greens the solution is to install as much solar and wind capacity and heat pumps as possible. We have to invest massively in renewable energies, to reduce the energy consumption and to focus on energy efficiency. We have to implement the Green Deal ambitiously. What really hurts Putin is to drastically reduce and erase the European consumption of fossil fuels.
Germany announced before the war that it would cooperate with Ukraine in the field of hydrogen. Will these plans be implemented after the end of the war?
Germany wants to rely on renewable energies in the future. Away from fossil raw materials. Green hydrogen shall play an important role in that. As long as it is produced with electricity from renewable energy sources (wind and solar power), green hydrogen is CO2-neutral. So far, however, it has only been used in individual pilot projects in Germany.
Now the sustainable energy carrier is to be promoted more strongly. This was announced by the German economy minister Robert Habeck with the so-called Easter Package on April 6, 2022. But not only this energy emergency package, also the visit of Habeck in the United Arab Emirates aimed at the promotion of green hydrogen. An energy partnership was concluded with the Arab Emirates – four hydrogen cooperation agreements and one research cooperation agreement. The signal: Hydrogen is to become a central key on the way to a sustainable energy supply.
Ukraine has great potential for green hydrogen, but first we must end the war and stop Putin.
What do you think should happen next with Nord Stream 2?
We have been calling for years that Europe must become independent of energy imports. As Greens we were always against Nord Stream 2 and I can only welcome that the German government has put a stop to the natural gas pipeline.
We in the European have voted on the 1st of March on our demands and positions on Russian aggression against Ukraine
The text reiterates its previous calls to significantly reduce energy dependence, in particular on Russian gas, oil and coal, by, inter alia, diversifying energy sources, including expanding liquefied natural gas terminals and supply routes, unbundling gas storage, and increasing energy efficiency and the speed of the clean energy transition.
We have called for the Nord Stream 2 pipeline to be definitively abandoned and therefore welcomes the decision of the German Government to halt the certification of Nord Stream 2.
We have also called on the Commission and the Member States to create a coordination mechanism and to use all possible gas depositories in order to ensure uninterrupted gas supply across the EU.
We asked the Member States, the Commission and the European Central Bank to carefully monitor the impact of the Russian attack on financial stability and the stability of prices, especially in relation to energy products, and to consider appropriate measures to mitigate any negative economic and social impact.
We are aware that the sanctions might have a specific impact on European households and that they should not pay the price of this crisis. Therefore, the Member States are called to prepare plans and subsidies for households to avoid the deepening of the energy crisis. The implementation of the Climate Social Fund I recently worked on as rapporteur in ECON committee could contribute on that in a positive way.
Interview by Michał Perzyński