US envoy says Russian invasion speeds shift to clean energy

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine will accelerate the world’s shift to renewable energy because of price shocks in oil and gas, a U.S. climate envoy said Thursday.

U.S. Deputy Special Envoy for Climate Rick Duke was speaking at an Australian National University forum after meetings with Australian government officials on bilateral cooperation in transitioning to net-zero greenhouse emissions by 2050.

Duke described the Russian invasion that began six months ago as “one of the biggest geopolitical drivers at the moment” for a global shift toward renewable energy.

“What has sometimes been lost in people’s understanding of the reverberations on that front is that when you look at what countries are actually doing in response, it’s going to accelerate the energy transition,” Duke said.

“The European Union has tripled down on its efforts to deploy renewables and heat pumps and to electrify its vehicle fleet and otherwise respond to this crisis,” he added. “That’s going to take time … but the pace is quickening because of the conflict.”

Meanwhile, Australia plans to reduce its heavy reliance on solar panels manufactured in China, a Russian ally, by diversifying its trading partners as the Australian government scales up its transition to renewables.

Kushla Munro, who heads the government’s International Climate Division, said Australia was focusing on India in developing an international collaboration on the production of solar panels and green hydrogen.

Australia had also prioritized green energy technology partnerships with Japan, South Korea and the United States to avoid the supply chain constraints that have arisen through the pandemic, Munro said.

The Australian government elected in May has increased Australia’s 2030 emissions reduction target to 42% from the previous administration’s goal of 26% to 28% below 2005 levels.

The United States is aiming for a 50% to 52% reduction by the end of the decade.

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