Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine 10 weeks ago has forced Europe to confront uncomfortable questions about Moscow’s grip on its energy supplies. The EU has slapped Russia with a raft of sanctions over the war, but its members are still heavily reliant on Russian gas and remain divided on how to deal with the issue. Since the conflict began, the bloc has imported around £37billion worth of Russian fossil fuels, with Germany and Italy the largest importers, according to the Centre of Research on Energy and Clean Air.
Under the international guidance set out by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the UK’s target only includes carbon emissions emitted directly within its borders.
This means that the Government’s advisory body, the Committee on Climate Change, does not count the UK’s carbon imports from countries such as Russia in its calculation of the UK’s progress towards net zero.
Almost half of the UK’s carbon footprint comes from emissions released overseas, according to a WWF report in 2020.
Most of the UK’s supply of natural gas comes from the North Sea and Norway rather than Russia.
Imports of Russian oil are slightly more, accounting for eight percent of total UK oil demand.
Germany has already shelved the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline from Russia, which is owned by a subsidiary of the country’s state-owned Gazprom and was not yet operational.
In March, the price of oil also shot up to $140 (£112) per barrel for the first time since 2008.
Other countries may be lined up as oil exporters to Europe such as the US, Norway, Qatar, Azerbaijan, Algeria, Egypt, Turkey, Japan and South Korea.
Part of the reliance on Russian gas, some argue, is down to the UK and EU prioritising net zero.
Some experts claim that by pursuing renewable forms of energy like solar and wind, gas reserves have been neglected, along with energy security.
This situation gives Putin an upper hand in controlling Europe’s energy supplies.
Last month, Sir Dieter Helm, energy economist at Oxford University, gave his assessment of the situation.
He wrote: “The trouble is that the populations [of the West] have all been fed a political, lobbyist and media narrative that decarbonisation is low-cost … they are discovering that this is not true.
“What the renewables drive neglected was the need to have a coincidental and supportive strategy for dealing with intermittency.”
He added: “Simply neglecting the gas security position, and in particular its price dimension, leaves the UK with … its first net-zero energy crisis.”