What measures is the EU taking to reduce energy consumption against Russia’s natural gas threat?

The European Commission and the energy ministers of the European Union want to reduce natural gas consumption before the next winter, which is expected to be difficult in terms of energy resources.

Governments state that “everyone will have to take responsibility” when implementing the energy-saving plan. This includes companies and individuals.

The agreed plan envisages a 15 percent reduction in natural gas consumption between August 1 and March 31. In this way, even if Russia completely cuts off its natural gas supply, houses will be heated during the winter and factories will continue their production.

So far, Moscow has partially or completely cut off gas supplies to many EU member states.

On top of that, governments aim to reduce their natural gas consumption and fill their emergency reserves until winter.

So what measures have governments taken so far?

France

Answering Euronews’ questions, a spokesperson from the French Ministry of Ecological Transformation stated that the government has prepared a plan that aims to reduce energy consumption by 10 percent in the next two years compared to 2019.

President Macron asked all citizens to reduce their energy expenditures by 10 percent.

This plan covers all energy sources, not just natural gas.

France meets 42 percent of its energy needs from nuclear energy. It is followed by oil, natural gas, biofuels and renewable resources.

In order to reduce energy consumption, stores that use air conditioners are obliged to close their doors. Apart from that, the government wants to ban floodlit billboards in all cities between 1 and 6 pm. This practice currently applies to cities with less than 800,000 inhabitants, but critics say it doesn’t.

Germany

A spokesperson for the German Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate said that it would be a logical step to stop heating systems in public buildings in areas that are not constantly used, such as corridors, large halls and technical rooms.

The spokesperson stated that the ministry is in coordination with the relevant institutions regarding the implementation.

Without central enforcement, some municipalities and states have taken measures such as reducing street lighting and setting temperature limits in public buildings.

Compared to France, Germany is in a much more dependent position on Russia for its energy needs.

Oil constitutes the country’s most important energy resource, with one-third, followed by natural gas. Coal ranks third with 15%.

Germany bought 55 percent of its natural gas, 35 percent of its oil and 45 percent of its coal from Russia in 2021.

Spain

In Spain, a circular has been issued that companies keep the air conditioners at 27 degrees in summer and 19 degrees in winter. The government has asked stores to use systems that will allow doors to close automatically. In addition, turning off the lights of the store windows after 10 pm is another measure taken. On the other hand, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez’s suggestion of not wearing a tie to reduce energy consumption, albeit jokingly, caused controversy.

Spain only gets 10 percent of its natural gas from Russia, but the government predicts that with these measures, oil and natural gas consumption will decrease by 5 percent in the short term.

Italy

Despite being one of the countries most dependent on Russian natural gas, Italy has not taken any measures yet. Ecological Transformation Minister Roberto Cingolani announced that they do not intend to take drastic measures to reduce consumption.

Italy plans to reduce its natural gas consumption by giving weight to coal.

Still, the government has announced that it is preparing a plan to keep heating degrees 19 in winter and cooling degrees 27 in summer, reducing street lighting and closing shops early.

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