The Russian invasion of Ukraine has exposed Europe’s energy and climate security vulnerabilities. It exacerbated the energy crisis caused by the gas supply deficits on global markets since 2021. Countries in Southeast Europe (SEE) are particularly vulnerable to energy and climate security risks due to their excessive dependence on Russian oil and gas imports. The SEE region will have to transform its energy sector over the next decade by gradually phasing out fossil fuels and by investing heavily in renewables.
Overcoming the structural energy and climate security risks in the region requires a long-term policy approach with ambitious security of supply and decarbonization targets. A key element of this long-term strategy is the timed phaseout of natural gas because reducing gas demand directly improves the security of supply without simply replacing one supply dependence with another.
These are some of the key findings of the latest assessment of the Center for the Study of Democracy (CSD) on The Future of Natural Gas in Southeast Europe: Diversification and Phaseout after the Russian Invasion in Ukraine. CSD presented the comprehensive analysis of the 2030 visions for the security of natural gas supply and for the acceleration of fossil fuel phaseout in the region during a high-level policy roundtable on The Future of Natural Gas in Southeast Europe: Diversification and Phaseout in Sofia on 28 March 2023.
CSD experts were joined by prominent EU and U.S. energy experts, including Geoffrey Pyatt, Assistant Secretary at Bureau of Energy Resources, U.S. Department of State, Yvon Slingenberg, Director Strategy, Analysis and Planning at the Directorate General for Climate Action, European Commission, Melanie Kenderdine, Principal of the Energy Futures Initiative, Peter Zeniewski, Lead Gas Analyst for the World Energy Outlook at the International Energy Agency, Delyan Dobrev, Committee on Energy at the National Assembly of Bulgaria (2022-2023), Radu Dudau, Co-Founder and Director of the Energy Policy Group, Romania, and Dimitri Lalas, Senior Advisor at FACE3TS S.A., Greece.
The participants at the roundtable agreed that overcoming the structural energy and climate security risks in the region would require a long-term policy approach with ambitious security of supply and decarbonization targets. True energy dependence will not be possible without a strong push for energy savings in buildings, the electrification of industrial processes and the deployment of cutting-edge alternative fuels.