April 1, 2023

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The EU’s headwinds face the challenge of moderation

Europe must go on an energy diet. Having largely lost its previous access to Russian gas pipelines due to its opposition to its invasion of Ukraine, the EU must now reduce its energy demand to build up gas reserves. , essential to face winter. This challenge is on the menu of the unusual encounter European Energy Ministers, Tuesday 26 July. A week ago, Brussels presented an emergency plan that calculated a target of a 15% reduction in energy consumption by next spring.

By turning hitherto abundant and cheap energy into a rare and expensive commodity, the Ukrainian crisis has succeeded in the fight against climate change, which has always failed: it has ushered in a European energy moderation. “Moderate approach to services provided by energy consumption as opposed to overconsumption”According to Definition of the NégaWatt association. A cultural change within twenty-seven, which is not limited to the plan put forward by the Commission, but is everywhere in its infancy.

In its relaxed aspect, the plan prepared by the European Commission proposes to regulate heating and air conditioning in public and commercial buildings, and to communicate more widely in appropriate gestures to the general public. On these points, some countries like Italy took the lead. Under the policy, renamed “Operation Thermostat” by the media, from May 1, schools and public buildings can only use air conditioning if the temperature reaches 27 °C in summer – up from 26 °C before – and heating only if the mercury is below 19. °, a fine of between 500 and 3,000 euros will be imposed.

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Spain took similar measures at the end of May, in large part “Energy Efficiency Project” – However without introducing restrictions – it calls on state civil service employees to telecommute more, take public transport and cycle or turn off lights before administrations. The recommendations will be extended to all households, the government has promised, and this is working “A Decalogue” Encouraging contextual gestures, step 20 minutes (Link in Spanish).

To Thomas Bellerin-Carlin, expert European Energy Policy The Jacques-Delors Institute said it is still too early to assess the effectiveness of these initiatives. “All governments are doing almost the same thing, continuing in denialHe believes. The only exception was Germany, which did not begin to do anything serious. But it didn’t start until June 10. Across the Rhine, the government has launched a broad communication campaign “80 million to save energy” (Link in German)As the number of inhabitants of the country.

“The energy saver helps Germany become less dependent on Russian imports and contributes to climate change.”

Robert Habeck, Germany’s Minister of Energy and Climate

June 10, 2022

It is also evident in France “sobriety” is no longer a dirty word. July 14 during the traditional and most solemn interview, Emmanuel Macron declared “An Energy Sobriety Project” It will be released at the end of September. “ohn prepare a plan to keep themselves in a state of low consumption”, He declared. “We will try to focus collectively, in the evening when the lights are ineffective, ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​/ He described.

New words and commitments that explain the failure of existing temperance measures: lights in shops will go out at 1 a.m. in the text that came into force in 2018 after the latest or one-hour outages, while temperature control in buildings is already ruled. Ordinance of 2007 Or An Essay on Energy Index.

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During the oil embargo decided by OPEC in 1973, no one used the word moderation, recalls Thomas Pellerin-Carlin. However, many countries implemented it later “Major Energy Moderation Campaigns” : In France, in addition to popular propaganda “In France, we don’t have oil, but we have ideas”, Such structural measures have emerged “Significant speed limits on roads or the implementation of the first energy efficiency standards for new buildings, where our current standards are distant successors,” The expert insists. It was at this time that a major cycling program was born in the Netherlands, which would have a lasting impact on the Dutch people’s relationship to mobility, he adds.

More recently, following the Fukushima disaster, Abandonment of nuclear power by Japan coincided with “Setsun”., “A big energy moderation and energy saving campaign, support The Prime Minister’s example of the time led to a general mobilization of the Japanese people”. The country managed to reduce its consumption by 20%, continues Thomas Pellerin-Carlin. “It’s not an action, it’s a set of actions” This has kept Japanese industry from collapsing and electricity prices steady “High without being too high”.

In comparison, the recommendations and actions taken by EU countries in light of this new crisis testify to limited enthusiasm for deep changes. Surprisingly, the fight for climate is rightly calling for more ideas and less fossil fuels, says Britain’s Rachel Kite. Vice President of the World Bank Group and Special Envoy on Climate ChangeQuoted Politics : “There is not a single G20 leader who is talking about this crisis as an opportunity”This expert in geopolitics noted. “If energy conversion is important to you”This situation “A Gift”.

Paradoxically, this energy crisis forces states to rest on two legs going in opposite directions: the moderation needed to combat climate change, and the urgent diversification of energy sources that requires more polluting use. “Renewables should be prioritized, but switching to coal, oil or nuclear may be necessary on a temporary basis” It was thus approved by the European Commission on 20 July.

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Several countries, including Germany, the Netherlands, Austria, Hungary, Spain and France, have announced in recent months that they are willing to use their coal power plants exceptionally, delaying their closure or increasing their output. Compensation for Russian gas cut. Eager to avoid rising prices, Westerners are eyeing American shale gas and gas and oil from the Gulf states: on July 18, Emmanuel Macron, for example, concluded a new energy deal with the president of the Arab Emirates, Mohamed bin Said, a guest of Elisha. Agreement to increase the country’s oil production. And proof that the EU is now paying a price for the difficulty of weaning itself off fossil fuels if it intends to struggle to wean itself off dependence on Russian energy.