The European Union can - and should - reduce its reliance on Russia as a source of gas, a new report into climate change has suggested.
Think tank Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) claims that a 35 per cent cut in the EU's energy usage by 2030 - recommended by the European Commission report as part of climate change measures - would cut gas imports to the region by a third.
This is equivalent to the proportion of the EU's gas demand currently met by Russia, the IPPR points out in its report “Europe’s power: Re-energising a progressive climate and energy agenda”.
It argues that the crisis in Ukraine has resulted in an escalation of tensions between Russia and the West, making it unwise for European nations to rely heavily on Russia for any kind of import.
A new round of sanctions imposed on Russia by the European Union target energy companies such as Rosneft, but gas firms such as Gazprom have been unaffected.
Heavy reliance on imports
More than half of Europe’s energy is now imported, including 90 per cent of its oil, 66 per cent of its gas and 62 per cent of its coal.
Of the 28 EU member states, 24 import gas from Russia, and half of this is flown over Ukraine.
Six member states are now completely reliant upon Russia for all of their gas, and 18 member states import between 10 per cent and 80 per cent of their gas from the country. In total, the EU is sending Russia around €31 billion a year for imported gas.
“The climate and energy decisions that Europe will make over the next 12 months will shape how we use and generate energy for decades to come,” the IPPR report says.
Proposals include the introduction of a ‘clean energy super-fund’, pooled from existing budgets for achieving the low-carbon transition.
But the UK government is concerned that the targets are too restrictive and may not turn out to be cost-effective.
"We are committed to energy efficiency and support ambitious EU energy efficiency measures," a spokesman for the Department of Energy and Climate Change said to the BBC.
"[However], we are concerned that an EU energy efficiency target for 2030 would not allow member states the flexibility to choose the most cost-effective pathway to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and increase the costs of delivering the overall 2030 package."