The European Commission has proposed to EU member states to introduce voluntary measures to cut natural gas consumption by 15% over the next eight months to prepare for further disruptions – including a complete stop of Russian gas deliveries. It also presented legislation that would allow it to introduce a binding target for reducing the use of gas.
The European Commission proposed the Council Regulation on Coordinated Demand Reduction Measures for Gas, which would set a target for all member states to reduce gas demand by 15% between August 1 and March 31.
The new regulation would also allow the Commission to declare, after consulting the member states, a so-called union alert on the security of supply, imposing a mandatory gas demand reduction on all member states.
Member states need to define measures for gas reduction by the end of September
The union alert can be triggered when there is a substantial risk of a severe gas shortage or an exceptionally high gas demand, the European Union’s executive body said. The commission asked member states to update their national emergency plans by the end of September to show how they intend to meet the reduction target.
The commission said that all consumers – public administrations, households, owners of public buildings, power suppliers, and the industry – can and should take measures to save gas, launching a slogan Save Gas for a Safe Winter.
According to the commission’s President Ursula von der Leyen, Russia is blackmailing the EU. She said it is using energy as a weapon, adding that a complete cutoff of Russian gas supply to Europe is a likely scenario, Al Jazeera reported.
EU energy ministers are scheduled to meet on July 26 to approve the proposal.
European Gas Demand Reduction Plan: switching to coal, oil, or nuclear is OK if it avoids long-term carbon lock-in
The European Gas Demand Reduction Plan sets out measures, principles, and criteria for coordinated demand reduction. It focuses on substituting gas with other fuels and overall energy savings in all sectors.
The plan aims to safeguard households and essential users like hospitals. Still, the commission pointed out industries that are decisive for the provision of actual products and services to the economy and for EU supply chains and competitiveness.
It advised that where possible, priority should be given to switching to renewables or cleaner, less carbon-intensive, or polluting options. However, switching to coal, oil, or nuclear energy may be necessary as a temporary measure, as long as it avoids long-term carbon lock-in.
The plan would:
- Encourage fuel switching away from gas, with a priority for renewables and cleaner fuels,
- Promote saving of non-critical gas for electricity and heat production,
- Incentivize consumption reduction by industry, for example, through tenders or auctions for reduced gas use, interruptible contracts, and contract swaps,
- Promote reduced heating and cooling in buildings, including through Member State awareness raising campaigns and action by individual citizens,
- Guide member states on prioritization of industry sectors in case of curtailments.