From The Breakthrough Institute:
The Russian invasion of Ukraine and ongoing responses by the global community have prompted renewed scrutiny of glaring energy and resource security gaps in the post-Cold War era. War, of course, is not new, nor is Russia’s aggression a unique threat to global energy security or decarbonization. However, as a nuclear-armed and energy export-intensive state engaged in an unprovoked attack on a neighboring country, Russia’s actions do pose novel challenges to national energy, security, and climate priorities.
Russia is the world’s third-largest producer of oil and the second-largest producer of natural gas. Much of Europe and parts of Asia remain crucially dependent on Russian oil and especially natural gas resources. This coincides with the wealthy world’s reliance on commodities and value-added trade—everything from solar-grade polysilicon to lithium-ion batteries—from authoritarian China. Climate and energy policies in OECD nations that increased the West’s long-term dependence on natural gas and let nuclear generation stagnate and decline have exacerbated these problems while stalling progress on climate goals. As the United States, Germany, and Belgium have continued to shutter domestic nuclear power plants, some countries have become ever more interlinked with authoritarian resource flows—in particular, Russian natural gas interests. Meanwhile, wealthy nations have increasingly withdrawn from investing in fossil energy, hydro, and nuclear energy projects in low- and middle-income countries, a void that Russia and China are rushing in to fill.
Mitigating or reversing these dynamics will require new energy policy commitments from the United States, the European Union, and beyond.