Europe is presently facing unprecedented geopolitical and economic challenges, including a severe humanitarian crisis unfolding from the war in Ukraine. Another situation growing in urgency is the energy crisis. Natural gas prices are rising with increased demand. The pandemic has exacerbated the issue, and there is increased competition as markets start reopening, coupled with the effect of a cold year. A significant factor in this crisis is that Russia, currently invading Ukraine, supplies 40% of natural gases to the European Union. Should the world cut off Russian energy as a form of sanction against the state, prices could rise even higher.

Even before the war in Ukraine, Green Parties around Europe were proposing measures to combat the rising price of energy, focusing policies around making it affordable and ensuring that all citizens have access. The Austrian Greens, for their part, are proposing a policy to give households a 150€  stipend to offset the cost of energy and measures to ensure that households can afford more energy-saving appliances. The Green Party in Belgium proposed that, among other suggestions, lower-income households receive a social tariff to offset the increased prices. The party in Germany proposed that households and students who rent and study receive allowances  for heating.

The general idea around these policy proposals is to make life more affordable and start making the change toward renewable energy, which will save money in the long run and implement a more just system. These goals are ambitious and would feed into the ultimate goals of becoming more energy-efficient and more environmentally friendly. Unfortunately, the likelihood of these proposals coming to fruition still remains to be seen. European concentration is undoubtedly on helping the citizens of Ukraine and preventing Russian expansion. However, significant questions about European energy will be in the conversation as the war continues and more Russian tariffs are imposed.

Danna Houssian

Danna graduated with an M.A from Simon Fraser University and a B.A from the University of Victoria. She is highly interested in international relations and defense.

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