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Norway's PM Jonas Støre says his country can power Europe
Norway's PM Jonas Støre says his country can power Europe | GZERO World

Norway's PM Jonas Støre says his country can power Europe

Norwegian Prime Minister Jonas Støre is optimistic about his country’s progress in the global energy transition, particularly regarding the pivot from reliance on fossil fuels to a broader adoption of renewable energy sources. And given Norway’s increased importance in supplying Europe with energy, the transition could not come a moment too soon. “I think the energy transition is happening... For the first time you have written down in text all agreeing that there will be a transition out of fossil fuels,” Støre tells Ian in a wide-ranging interview for GZERO World on the sidelines of the Munich Security conference. Støre extolls the significant strides being made despite the prevailing geopolitical tensions and environmental challenges.

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Europe's energy future: Perspective from Norway's PM Jonas Støre

Listen: In the latest episode of the GZERO World Podcast, Ian Bremmer discusses the critical themes of energy security and geopolitical stability in Europe amidst ongoing global challenges with Norwegian Prime Minister Jonas Støre on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference. Støre outlines Norway's ambitious plan to transition from oil and gas to renewable energy sources by 2030. This transition is not just a local endeavor but a necessary shift for Europe, aiming to address both the climate crisis and geopolitical tensions by reducing dependency on fossil fuels.

With Europe cutting off nearly all Russian energy imports, Norway has become a key supplier. Støre emphasizes the importance of technological innovation, international cooperation, and the pivotal role of the market economy in facilitating the transition towards green energy. “You cannot make it unless you make the market economy be at the service of the transition,” Jonas Gahr Støre explains. Moreover, he touches upon the broader implications for NATO and the transatlantic alliance, underscoring Europe's need to bolster its energy security and military capabilities to support Ukraine independently, if necessary.

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The European Union's energy mix

The Graphic Truth: The European Union's energy mix

Since Russia invaded Ukraine earlier this year, the European Union has upped its commitments to ditch dirty energy sources, in large part to reduce its reliance on Russian oil and natural gas, and dilute Moscow’s leverage over European geopolitics. But even before the war, EU countries had been working towards diversifying their energy portfolios to meet their ambitious climate goals. In recent years, nuclear power and renewable energy sources have been more widely adopted throughout the bloc, while fossil fuel consumption has dipped. We compare the EU’s energy mix in 2000 and 2020.

European Commission holds a news conference in Brussels.

REUTERS/Yves Herman

What We're Watching: EU's energy conundrum, Plan B for Ukraine grain exports, war games in Taiwan, robot revenge

EU’s deepening gas woes

Europe’s gas crisis went from bad to worse on Monday after Russia announced that it would slash deliveries to Germany via the Nord Stream 1 pipeline to 20% capacity beginning this week. The Kremlin’s dramatic move is further testing the European Union’s cohesiveness just days after Brussels called on members to voluntarily cut natural gas consumption by 15% until at least April 2023. The European Commission, the EU’s executive arm, wants its 27 member states to cut back in order to boost stockpiles ahead of winter as Russia continues to use its natural gas exports as a political weapon. But the sense of European unity that defined the early stage of the war – when the bloc rallied together to enforce crushing sanctions on Moscow – is now waning. Countries like Spain and Portugal that rely less on Russian natural gas than the Germans and Italians, say the plan doesn’t account for EU countries’ disparate needs (a diplomatic way of asking why the heck they should suffer because Berlin has failed to diversify its energy portfolio). Though Brussels prefers for the plan to remain voluntary, it has threatened to make reductions in gas consumption mandatory across the bloc. The plan could go to a vote as soon as Tuesday and requires 15 of 27 states to back it. For now, the bickering continues.

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Luisa Vieira

The EU’s natural gas troubles won’t end after ditching Russia

When Russian energy giant Gazprom shut off the Nord Stream 1 natural gas pipeline for routine summer maintenance last week, Germany and the rest of the EU feared that Russian President Vladimir Putin would refuse to turn the tap back on as a way of punishing the West for sanctions against Russia.

The jitters dissipated somewhat when Nordstream went back online Thursday, albeit at 40% capacity. But Berlin and other European capitals still worry that if things go south, they’ll need to ration gas at the worst possible time: when they need it to keep homes warm during the winter. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen is urging EU members to ration natural gas by 15% through next March to prepare for a likely future cut in supply.

The Europeans have long realized that over-depending on (and over-investing in) a single energy source makes them geopolitically vulnerable. But cutting off Russia and turning to the Middle East and North Africa will be anything but smooth sailing.

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