European energy diversification

European energy diversification: How alternative sources, routes, and clean technologies can bolster energy security and decarbonization


This issue brief was informed by discussions at an Atlantic Council Global Energy Center roundtable on European energy security in Berlin on October 9, 2019, as well as other conversations with government officials, private sector executives, and leading academics in the global energy sector. The information in this issue brief will not be attributed to any specific individual since the discussions took place under the Chatham House Rule. This is the second issue brief in a series; it complements the findings in the first issue brief, “European Energy Security and Transatlantic Cooperation: A Current Assessment,” which covered the current state of the European Union’s regulatory environment and energy markets with a specific focus on energy security and natural gas markets.


The European Union’s efforts to achieve a carbon-neutral economy present a unique and timely opportunity to strengthen European energy security. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen recently proposed a “European Green Deal,”—Europe’s new growth strategy, which seeks to transform the European Union (EU) into a climate-neutral economy by 2050. This objective builds on the commitments made by the EU under the Paris Agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 40 percent by 2030 compared to 1990. The European Commission plans to enshrine the 2050 climate neutrality objective into law in March 2020. The European Council endorsed the Green Deal objectives, despite opposition from Poland. The discussions are set to continue in June 2020. According to the objective of the “European Green Deal,” carbon emissions would have to be reduced by at least 50 percent by 2030 compared to 1990 levels. However, the European Environment Agency said that, without additional measures, the EU would likely miss its 2030 target for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Current policies would reduce the EU’s emissions by 60 percent by 2050. New technologies, along with natural gas, will play a critical role in helping the EU reach this ambitious goal. Furthermore, the EU will use alternative gas sources, routes, and infrastructure to bolster European energy security. Clean energy sources will complement natural gas in European efforts to decarbonize and contribute to European energy security. This issue brief will evaluate the EU’s efforts to meet its decarbonization goals, address the role of natural gas in Europe’s low-carbon future, and explain the potential for new gas sources, alternative gas routes, and clean energy technologies to reduce carbon emissions, while simultaneously increasing European energy security and opportunities for transatlantic cooperation.


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Ambassador Richard Morningstar served as U.S. Ambassador to Azerbaijan from 2012 to 2014, Special Envoy for Eurasian Energy from 2009 to 2012 and U.S. Ambassador to the European Union from 1999 to 2001. He is the founding chairman of the Global Energy Center and a board director at the Atlantic Council.

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