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Energy Platform Task Force (EPTF) (ENER.TF)
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EU Debates, News & Opinions
REPowerEU: Commission establishes the EU Energy Platform Task Force to secure alternative supplies
Today, the Commission has set up a new Task Force within its Directorate-General for Energy, to provide support to the EU Energy Platform and implement the REPowerEU goal of supply diversification. Following a mandate from the European Council in March 2022, the Commission and Member States have established the EU Energy Platform to coordinate measures to secure energy supplies for the EU, including through the voluntary common purchase of pipeline gas, LNG and hydrogen. The new Task Force will help deliver on the REPowerEU objective of reducing our dependence on Russian fossil fuels, by enabling Member States and neighbouring countries to have access to alternative energy supplies at affordable prices in the coming years.
Commissioner for Energy, Kadri Simson , said: “In our REPowerEU Plan we outlined how Europe can get rid of Russian fossil fuels. Now we are giving ourselves the tools to make it happen. It is time to diversify our energy supplies and make best use of our infrastructure. The Energy Platform Task Force will contribute to Europe’s energy security and independence. Through the collective political and economic weight of the EU’s 27 Member States and 440 million citizens, we will work to ensure affordable and secure energy imports.”
The Energy Platform Task Force will start work next week, on 1 June, and immediately tackle the new tasks outlined in the REPowerEU Plan adopted on 18 May. It will work towards demand aggregation, coordination of capacity and negotiation of energy supplies, while also providing support for the Regional Task Forces of Member States and neighbouring countries. Furthermore, it will manage outreach to international partners.
The new Task Force will consist of three units, headed by a Director and reporting to a newly appointed Deputy Director-General, Matthew Baldwin, and to the Director-General for Energy Ditte Juul Jørgensen, under the political supervision of Commissioner for Energy Kadri Simson . The units of the Task Force will deal with: global demand and international negotiations; relations with the Member States and the neighbourhood; and international relations.
The Commission proposed to create a platform for common gas and hydrogen purchases at EU level in March, when it outlined options to mitigate high energy prices. The idea was endorsed by the EU’s Heads of State or Government at the European Council on 25 March.
On 7 April, the Commission established the EU Energy Platform with the Member States at a first meeting chaired by Director-General for Energy, Ditte Juul Jørgensen. It was agreed that the Platform will be a voluntary coordination mechanism supporting the purchase of gas and hydrogen for the Union, making optimal use of the collective political and market of the EU.
On 5 May, the Commission and Bulgaria set up a first Regional Taskforce, as part of the EU’s Energy Platform, in coordination with neighbours in the South East of Europe. Further Regional Task Forces, covering Central Eastern Europe, North-West and the Baltics will be proposed soon.
In the REPowerEU Plan, the Commission announced that as a next step, and replicating the ambition of the common vaccine purchasing programme, it will consider the development of a ‘joint purchasing mechanism’ which will negotiate and contract gas purchases on behalf of participating Member States.
For more information
Energy Security: Commission hosts first meeting of EU Energy Purchase Platform to secure supply of gas, LNG and hydrogen
EU Energy security webpage
REPowerEU: A plan to rapidly reduce dependence on Russian fossil fuels and fast forward the green transition
Commission opens €4 billion call for proposals for net-zero technologies under the innovation fund, commission endorses hungary’s €4.6 billion repowereu chapter, to complement its recovery and resilience plan, commission launches first european hydrogen bank auction with €800 million of subsidies for renewable hydrogen production.
Germany pledges to invest €4 billion in green energy projects in Africa
Cop28: key issues at stake and indicators of success, how to spur investments in greener power grids, privacy overview.
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Joint Readout of U.S.-EU Task Force Meeting on Energy Security
On 3 November 2022, the U.S.-EU Task Force on Energy Security met in Washington to discuss implementation of the 25 March Joint Statement by Presidents Biden and Von der Leyen, which aims to help diversify the EU’s natural gas supplies and reduce natural gas demand and consumption. The Task Force builds on long-standing cooperation under the U.S.-EU Energy Council, including to advance the clean energy transition. The meeting was co-chaired by Björn Seibert, Head of Cabinet of the European Commission President, and Amos Hochstein, U.S. Special Presidential Coordinator, and under the leadership of Ditte Juul Jørgensen, European Commission Director General for Energy, and Stephanie Epner, Special Advisor and Acting Senior Director for Climate and Energy at the White House National Security Council.
The meeting of the Task Force took stock of joint work to date, including multiple meetings with EU Member States and EU and U.S. industry representatives to discuss and compare policy approaches, as well as best practices with respect to energy savings, deployment of clean energy technologies, and decoupling from Russian energy in 2022 and beyond.
Also, as the world gathers for COP27 this week, we reaffirmed our commitment to an accelerated and responsible clean energy transition, which is both key to achieving our shared climate goals and the best way to ensure long-term energy security around the world.
We condemned Russia’s unprovoked aggression on Ukraine and Russia’s repeated attacks on civilian energy and electricity infrastructure, and the risks to humanitarian conditions caused by these attacks. The EU and United States will continue to partner on providing emergency energy assistance to Ukraine, and support to other heavily affected countries in the region, such as Moldova, which face acute impacts from Russia’s actions to employ energy as a weapon.
Russia’s war against Ukraine and its weaponization of energy resources pose significant challenges to European and global energy security. Russia has acutely disrupted global energy markets leading to sharp increases in prices and threatening food security, with disproportionate consequences for the developing world and the most vulnerable populations. Russia has taken unilateral decisions to disrupt natural gas supplies to several European countries and attack critical infrastructure in disregard of the international legal order pertaining to safe, secure and peaceful use of nuclear energy technologies. The EU’s resolve to diversify its natural gas supplies and reduce overall natural gas use, as stated in the RePowerEU Plan, is unequivocal. Close partnership between the EU and the United States on energy matters offers opportunities for both sides to accelerate the clean energy transition and, also curtails Russia’s energy revenues, which are used to fund the unprovoked and unjustified war.
The participants welcomed surpassing the commitment made in the Joint Statement by Presidents Biden and Von der Leyen, to increase LNG supplies to Europe by 15 bcm in 2022 as compared to 2021. This year alone, between January through October, approximately 48 bcm of LNG was exported from the U.S. to the EU, which is 26 bcm more than for the full year of 2021. Building on this trend, the participants committed to work on keeping a high level of LNG supplies to Europe in 2023 of an additional approximately 50 bcm as compared to 2021. The parties also discussed how the Task Force will contribute to ensuring security of supply and storage filling in 2023 at prices reflecting economic fundamentals and our shared push for energy market stability. This effort will be further supported with the establishment of the EU Energy Platform as an instrument for demand aggregation and joint purchase of gas.
Both sides underscored that Russia’s weaponization of energy reinforces the need to accelerate the energy transition and implement more ambitious policies to reduce dependence on gas and other fossil fuels. The participants welcomed the EU’s ongoing efforts to reduce natural gas demand by 15% and considered current and potential new energy efficiency measures to ensure the EU’s energy security throughout the winter 2022/23. Earlier this fall, the Task Force also initiated a dialogue among the EU, the U.S. Government, EU Member States, industry, NGOs and private sector representatives to share the key elements for successful consumer campaigns as well as actionable policy recommendations to smooth energy demand peaks, reduce natural gas and electricity usage, improve energy efficiency of people’s homes and lower consumer bills as well as government expenditures. During the meeting, the participants committed to pursue a series of targeted sub-dialogues to explore deeper cooperation on offering incentives for utilities and consumers to implement energy efficiency solutions for reducing electricity and gas use without sacrificing comfort, shifting demand from peak to off-peak hours, and targeted digital solutions to help save consumers money on their bills.
Mindful of the environmental impact of LNG production and consumption, the United States and the EU commit to step up their efforts to reduce methane emissions both in bilateral trade and at the global level, by supporting domestic and international measures for reinforced monitoring, reporting and verification, as well as transparency, for methane emissions data in the fossil energy sector. In this spirit, the EU has proposed new legislation to reduce methane emissions across the oil, gas and coal sectors, setting clear monitoring, reporting and verification requirements, as well as strict mitigation measures and global monitoring and information tools to ensure transparency of methane emissions reduction. Both sides take note of the U.S. Inflation Reduction Act’s Methane Emissions Reduction Program, which will invest $1.55 billion to reduce methane emissions and implement a methane waste fee on major emitting facilities, as well as the ongoing rulemaking process to sharply reduce methane and other harmful air pollution from both new and existing sources in the oil and natural gas sectors via the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Building on this progress, the EU-U.S LNG trade should aim to achieve significant reductions in flaring, venting, and leakage of methane across the oil and gas value chains to the fullest extent practicable. Both sides also plan to pursue initiatives to reduce flaring, venting, and leakage in oil and gas value chains, including through innovative purchasing frameworks to incentivize the capture of this gas to bring to market, such as the EU’s proposed “you collect, we buy” approach. These methane reduction efforts should be aligned with internationally accepted standards to improve the accuracy and transparency of fossil energy methane emissions data, such as the Oil and Gas Methane Partnership 2.0 (OGMP2.0). We also commit to continue to lead global efforts to reduce methane emissions worldwide under the Global Methane Pledge and the Global Methane Pledge Energy Pathway, which will substantially advance and accelerate global climate action.
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Situation in Ukraine!
The European Commission and the Covenant of Mayors East Secretariat express their full support to the Ukrainian CoM East team and stakeholders who were and are still striving to build a path for citizens towards a better and more sustainable but also peaceful life!
All our thoughts and hearts are with them!
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REPowerEU: save energy, diversify, build a greener EU energy system
Following the invasion of Ukraine by Russia, in the REPowerEU communication, the Commission stressed the need to eliminate our dependency on Russian fossil fuels. In the longer term, reducing the energy demand through energy savings, and accelerating the deployment of renewable energy remain no-regret options. In the meantime we also need to diversify the energy supplies. The level of ambition is very high, and so are the investment needs to implement the REPowerEU plan, and the financing sources that can be used for this purpose. The session provides an overview of the REPowerEU plan, and its expected impact on the EU energy system.
- Cristina Lobillo Borrero, Head of Energy Platform Task Force, Directorate-General for Energy, European Commission
- Kadri Simson, European Commissioner for Energy, European Commission (TBC)
- Tim Gould, Chief Economist, International Energy Agency
- Miguel Gil Tertre, Chief Economist, Head of Unit DG ENER.A4, Directorate-General for Energy, European Commission
- Paula Pinho, Director of DG ENER.B, Directorate-General for Energy, European Commission
- Catharina Sikow-Magny, Director of DG ENER.C, Directorate-General for Energy, European Commission
- Cristina Lobillo Borrero, Head of Energy Platform Task Force, Directorate-General for Energy, European Commission
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U.S. Embassy & Consulates in Italy
Social / search, joint statement on u.s.-eu task force on energy security.
April 3, 2023
1. ACCOMPLISHMENTS AND MILESTONES
One year ago this week, the United States and the European Union (EU) stood up a joint U.S.-EU Task Force on Energy Security launched by President Biden and President von der Leyen. The Task Force has made major progress in meeting its goals to reduce the EU’s reliance on Russian energy, including by diversifying its natural gas supplies in alignment with its climate objectives and reducing its overall demand for natural gas.
The United States more than doubled its target to ensure delivery of an additional 15 billion cubic meters (bcm) of liquefied natural gas (LNG) to the EU. Last year, U.S. exports to the EU were 56 bcm, up from 22 bcm in 2021. The EU was the largest destination for U.S. LNG exports, accounting for more than 52 percent of supplies. At the end of 2022, Russian gas accounted for only 16 percent of the EU’s gas imports, down from 37 percent in March 2022.
Between August 2022 and January 2023, the EU reduced its overall demand of natural gas by 19 percent, including by lowering electricity use, improving energy efficiency in the residential sector, identifying new digital solutions to help consumers save money, and completing other demand-side measures.
The U.S.-EU Task Force on Energy Security builds on long-standing, transatlantic cooperation under the U.S.-EU Energy Council and is an outcome of the joint commitment to reduce the EU’s dependency on Russian energy and accelerate the global transition to clean energy in the wake of unjustified and unprovoked Russian military aggression on Ukraine. The United States and the EU are committed to meeting the goals of the Paris Agreement, achieving the objective of net zero emissions by 2050, and keeping a 1.5 degrees Celsius limit on temperature rise within reach.
The Task Force provides an important platform for a regular exchange of information between the United States and the European Commission. To that end, the Task Force monitors the energy security situation in the EU and neighbouring countries, and progress on reducing dependence on fossil fuels. The Task Force has discussed global LNG markets and market projections, the regulatory environment and permitting outlook in the United States and the EU, the development of U.S. LNG export capacities, the reinforcement of EU LNG infrastructure, and the EU Energy Platform and Joint Purchasing. Further, the Task Force has helped to identify solutions for addressing emergency energy security objectives in the EU to ensure appropriate levels of gas storage ahead of winter seasons.
Recognizing that clean energy as well as energy efficiency, and demand flexibility measures are essential to enhancing energy security and accelerating the energy transition, the Task Force has exchanged information on policy and market solutions to accelerate the deployment of energy efficiency technology, heat pumps, smart thermostats and related awareness raising activities among consumers and relevant stakeholders. The Task Force also discussed solutions for reducing gas and electricity use and costs through flexible demand response mechanisms that reward customers for reducing or shifting their energy usage.
The meetings of the Task Force are chaired by Björn Seibert, Head of Cabinet of the European Commission President, and Amos Hochstein, U.S. Senior Advisor for Energy Security. Ditte Juul Jørgensen, European Commission Director General for Energy, and Sarah Ladislaw, Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Climate and Energy at the White House National Security Council also play a leadership role. The Task Force reports to President von der Leyen and President Biden. The meetings of the Task Force are also attended by senior representatives of the U.S. Department of State, the U.S. Department of Energy, the European Commission Directorate General of Energy as well as by representatives of the European External Action Service. These meetings also include private sector representatives and NGOs to hear diverse perspectives that are important for these topics.
2. NEXT STEPS AND OUTLOOK
During 2023, the Task Force will continue to focus on the energy market shocks and high energy prices caused by Putin’s war of aggression against Ukraine. Russia uses energy as a weapon to undermine European security. Task Force priorities for 2023 will include: 1) continuous assessments of LNG markets and ensuring U.S. LNG deliveries to Europe of 50 bcm in 2023, 2) reduction of methane emissions, and 3) energy savings and efficiency measures.
In the coming months, the Task Force will continue to work on keeping a high level of U.S. LNG supplies to Europe in 2023 of at least 50 bcm. This is necessary given the challenging supply situation and the need to ensure storage filling for the next winter 2023-24.
The EU Energy Platform will launch its first joint tenders under the Aggregate EU, a new means of demand aggregation and joint purchasing, in May 2023. Such tenders will be open to all non-Russian gas sellers. The Task Force has facilitated engagement with the U.S. LNG industry on the EU Energy Platform and its upcoming implementation to attract U.S. LNG to Europe.
Further, the Task Force will help to implement U.S. and EU efforts to reduce methane emissions, both in bilateral trade and at the global level, by supporting domestic and international measures to promote increased monitoring, reporting, and verification, as well as transparency, for methane emissions data in the fossil fuel sector. As discussed at the Task Force meeting in November 2022, both sides also plan to pursue initiatives to reduce flaring, venting, and leakage in oil and gas value chains, including through innovative purchasing frameworks to incentivize the capture of this gas to bring to market such as the EU’s proposed “you collect, we buy” approach. The Task Force will further facilitate these efforts to reduce methane emissions and increase the liquidity of natural gas that minimizes flaring, methane, and CO2 emissions across the value chain.
Recognizing the importance of energy efficiency and demand flexibility as key contributors to enhancing energy security, the United States and the European Commission are preparing a series of further sub-dialogues in the energy savings work stream. Starting in early 2023, the sub-dialogues will explore deeper cooperation and ways to incentivize utilities and consumers to implement short- and medium-term energy efficiency solutions for reducing electricity and gas use, shifting demand from peak to off-peak hours, and targeted digital solutions to help save consumers money on their bills.
The Task Force also will facilitate the exchange of best practices on energy savings and energy efficiency schemes and organize a dedicated conversation around implemented and planned policies for demand response by EU Member States. These measures will build on Europe’s impressive success in reducing its energy use as a means of enhancing its energy security. Europe has demonstrated notable progress in completing large-scale clean energy infrastructure projects on an accelerated timeline to respond to the energy crisis, and the Task Force will explore opportunities to share best practices to ensure the continued rapid deployment of large-scale clean energy technologies throughout the EU. In addition, both sides intend to organize a high-level Business Roundtable on Energy Savings and Renewables on 3 April 2023 in connection with the Task Force and back-to-back with the U.S.-EU Energy Council on 4 April 2023.
The Task Force will continue its work as determined by President von der Leyen and President Biden at their meeting on 10 March 2023.
By U.S. Mission Italy | 3 April, 2023 | Topics: News | Tags: U.S. - EU
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Putin says 'utter nonsense' Russia is using gas as a geopolitical weapon, ready to help Europe
Live coverage of this CNBC-moderated panel has now ended.
Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday joined business leaders in Moscow for a CNBC-moderated panel at Russian Energy Week.
Hosted by CNBC's Hadley Gamble, Putin discussed a range of energy issues alongside BP CEO Bernard Looney, TotalEnergies CEO Patrick Pouyanne, ExxonMobil CEO Darren Woods and Daimler CEO Ola Kallenius.
10:00 am: Here are the main takeaways as the panel concludes
As proceedings draw to a close, here's a look at some of the main takeaways from Wednesday's panel:
On gas: At the start of the plenary session at Russian Energy Week, Russia's Putin insisted the country was not using gas as a geopolitical weapon and instead stands ready to help Europe with additional energy supplies. CNBC's Holly Ellyatt has the story: Putin says Russia is not using gas as a weapon, claims U.S. added to energy crisis
On Nord Stream 2: Putin rejected criticism of the contentious pipeline as "nonsense" and described the project as "purely commercial."
On COP26: The Russian president said he was still unsure whether to attend U.N.-brokered climate talks in person later this month. The event is due to be held in Glasgow, Scotland from Oct. 31 through to Nov. 12. CNBC's Vicky McKeever has the story: Putin says he may not attend climate summit COP26 over Covid fears
On Taiwan: Russia's Putin said China "does not need to use force" to reach national goals and described Beijing as a "truly reliable partner and ally." CNBC's Elliot Smith has the story: President Putin on Taiwan: ‘China does not need to use force’
On oil: Putin said he believed it was "quite possible" oil prices could climb above $100 as energy demand rises. CNBC's Silvia Amaro has the story: $100 oil is 'quite possible,' Russia's Putin says
On U.S. ties: Russia's president said he hoped diplomatic ties between the U.S. and Russia would gradually improve, citing a host of fundamental and shared interests.
— Sam Meredith
9:25 am: Russia prepared to hold direct talks with NATO to work on long-standing issues
Russia is prepared to hold direct talks with the NATO alliance to work on long-standing geopolitical issues, Putin said on Wednesday.
"Yes, we are willing to talk directly to NATO in particular," Putin said, according to a translation.
The Russian president defended the country's large-scale military exercises, saying they had been conducted within their own territory. Putin sharply criticized the U.S., however, for holding military exercises outside of its borders.
9:05 am: Putin hopeful U.S.-Russia relations will gradually improve
Russia's Putin says he is hopeful diplomatic ties between Moscow and Washington will gradually improve in the coming years.
The Russian president cited shared interests in tackling fundamental issues such as security, reduction of strategic weapons, combating terrorism, money laundering and tax havens, and stabilizing energy markets. "Those are objectively important things for us where our interests coincide," Putin said, according to a translation.
Putin said he hoped the U.S. administration would "stop speculating" on the U.S.-Russia relationship, adding U.S.-imposed sanctions against Russia had only served to damage their own interests and companies.
8:45 am: Putin says not yet decided whether to attend COP26
Russia's Putin has said he is unsure whether to attend critically important climate talks due to be held in the U.K. later this month.
"I have not decided on that yet due to the pandemic situation but still I will participate in the work of COP26," Putin told CNBC's Hadley Gamble, according to a translation. "I'm not sure whether I will go there and participate in it personally but I will definitely participate in it."
The U.N.-brokered summi t, known as COP26, will see world leaders gather in Glasgow, Scotland from Oct. 31 through to Nov. 12. to discuss how to meet the demands of the climate emergency.
Russia's climate targets, policies and finance are recognized as "critically insufficient" by Climate Action Tracker, an independent research group. This rating means Russia's current climate policies "reflect minimal to no action and are not at all consistent with the Paris Agreement."
8:35 am: TotalEnergies CEO says coal is 'king' amid energy supply crunch
TotalEnergies CEO Patrick Pouyanne has said coal is "king" amid power supply shortages in Europe and Asia because it's cheaper than other energy sources.
Speaking to CNBC's Hadley Gamble at Russian Energy Week, Pouyanne said substituting gas for coal would be "good" for climate change, but that such a move would require lower gas prices.
"We need to have a lower price because coal, today, is king," Pouyanne said on Wednesday. "Coal is cheaper than all the other sources for energy."
Coal is the most carbon-intensive fossil fuel in terms of emissions and therefore the most important target for replacement in the pivot to renewable alternatives .
Burning fossil fuels, such as oil, gas and coal, is the chief driver of the climate crisis, yet the world's dependency on fossil fuels is set to get even worse in the coming decades.
8:10 am: Putin claims Nord Stream 2 is a 'purely commercial project,' dismiss criticism as nonsense
Russia's Putin has rejected criticism of the contentious Nord Stream 2 pipeline as "nonsense," describing the undersea pipeline as a "purely commercial project."
Nord Stream 2 is designed to deliver Russian gas directly to Germany via the Baltic Sea, bypassing Ukraine and Poland.
Critics argue the pipeline is not compatible with European climate goals , increases the region's dependence on Russian energy exports, and will most likely strengthen Putin 's economic and political influence over the region.
The construction of Nord Stream 2 was completed last month. Germany's energy regulator has since said it has four months to complete certification of the project after receiving all necessary paperwork for an operating license.
8:00 am: 'Utter nonsense': Putin says Russia is not using energy as a geopolitical weapon
Russia's Putin says Moscow is not using natural gas as a geopolitical weapon, insisting that criticism over the country's role in Europe's deepening energy crisis is "politically motivated" and "utter nonsense."
"We are not using any weapons," Putin told CNBC's Hadley Gamble on Wednesday, according to a translation. "Even during the hardest parts of the Cold War, Russia regularly has fulfilled its contractual obligations and supplied gas to Europe."
Last month, in a rare public rebuke of Russia , the International Energy Agency called on Russia to send more gas to Europe to alleviate the region's deepening supply crunch.
Separately, the chief executive of Ukrainian state energy giant Naftogaz has previously accused Russia's Gazprom of using natural gas as a geopolitical weapon.
7:40 am: Why are natural gas prices so high?
As Putin concludes his opening address to the plenary session of Russian Energy Week, here's a useful explainer on Europe's unfolding energy crisis.
A perfect storm of bad news for energy markets has comprised of an eye-watering increase in natural gas prices, soaring coal and carbon costs, low wind output and predictions of a return to $100 oil.
Policymakers are trying to mitigate the impact on consumers and protect vulnerable households.
7:35 am: Putin says Russia is ready to discuss additional steps to supply gas to Europe
Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday the country stands ready to discuss additional steps to supply natural gas to Europe, adding that he believes Moscow is on track to deliver record levels of gas to the global market by year-end.
Speaking on stage at Russian Energy Week, Putin said, according to a translation: "For any market, stability and predictability is important and Russia flawlessly fulfils its contractual obligations to our partners, including our partners in Europe."
"We ensure guaranteed, uninterrupted gas deliveries to Europe. We have all the reasons to believe that by the end of this year we will reach record levels of gas deliveries to the global market."
Putin said the country would be ready to discuss any additional steps to supply further gas deliveries to Europe, echoing comments from the Kremlin earlier in the day.
His comments come shortly before a CNBC-moderated panel on global energy, where Putin will be joined by BP CEO Bernard Looney, TotalEnergies CEO Patrick Pouyanne, ExxonMobil CEO Darren Woods and Daimler CEO Ola Kallenius.
6:35 am: IEA's Birol says surging energy prices must not derail climate policy
The chief executive of the International Energy Agency told CNBC on Wednesday that surging energy prices must not derail the urgent need to significantly reduce worldwide fossil fuel use.
"High prices in coal, or gas, or in oil, they have nothing to do with the clean energy transition," Fatih Birol said. "I see that some say try to portray this current situation as the first crisis of the clean energy transition — which is incorrect."
He added: "If not addressed by the governments and others properly ... and if the real facts are not brought to the public, it may well be a significant barrier for further climate policy action."
His comments come just weeks ahead of a landmark international climate change summit due to be held in Glasgow, Scotland.
6:05 am: Russia hits new record for daily Covid deaths as infections rise, vaccinations lag
Ahead of Putin's opening remarks at Russian Energy Week , a reminder of the country's Covid situation: Russia's daily Covid death toll on Tuesday notched another grim record.
CNBC's Holly Ellyatt has the story:
Russia's daily Covid death toll hits grim record as cases rise and vaccinations lag
5:45 am: Russia says gas supplies to Europe are at maximum levels, any increase to be negotiated with Gazprom
Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov on Wednesday said Russia was supplying gas to Europe at maximum levels under existing contracts, according to the TASS news agency .
Any potential increase in supply would need to be negotiated via Russia's state-owned energy giant Gazprom, Peskov said, adding Moscow stands ready to increase gas transit through Ukraine if the European Union increases purchases.
"We can say that Russia is flawlessly fulfilling all contractual obligations under the upper bar, that is, to the possible maximum, all volumes of supplies have been increased in the light of the contracts and agreements that exist," Peskov said, TASS reported.
5:50 am: Putin to deliver opening remarks at Russian Energy Week
Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday is scheduled to deliver a speech at the plenary session of the Russian Energy Week international forum in Moscow.
His opening remarks come ahead of a CNBC-moderated panel on global energy, where Putin will be joined by BP CEO Bernard Looney, TotalEnergies CEO Patrick Pouyanne, ExxonMobil CEO Darren Woods and Daimler CEO Ola Kallenius.
CNBC's Hadley Gamble is set to welcome the business leaders to the stage at around 1:00 p.m. Moscow time (6 a.m. ET), with Putin expected to speak for approximately 15 minutes thereafter.
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How the Bolsheviks electrified the USSR in record time
The electrification of Soviet Russia came about unlike anywhere else in the world. Having seized power, the Bolsheviks quickly realized that unless they turned the backward agrarian country into an industrial economy in a matter of years, the very existence of the Soviet state would be in peril. The first thing to do was to supply electricity nationwide – a far from simple task given Russia's size and widespread illiteracy. So the Bolsheviks decided to propagandize it, and pulled off a masterstroke.
The implementation of the plan for Russia’s electrification, approved in 1921, not only led to large-scale industrial development, but created a new deity at whose feet artists, writers, sculptors, architects and filmmakers began to worship. Electrification had a huge impact on both Soviet life and art.
In December 1921, the 9th All-Russian Congress of Soviets approved the plan of the State Commission for Electrification of Russia, which contained a list of power plants to be built over the next 10–15 years. It was a rational, forward-looking project to transform the nation, which, despite its grounding in science, nevertheless contained a hint of the irrational. Early Soviet writings on electrification describe electricity as a kind of life-giving, Frankenstein-esque force, a type of mysterious energy. An essay dedicated to the construction of the Shter power plant stated: "[Electricity is] a powerful invisible force that will flow through the country's veins, through wires, and breathe life into [dead coal mines]... Crops will become taller and greener as a result of this force." This concept of electricity as both a rational and mystical force was important in the early Soviet period. It was a continuation of past ideas formed in the 19th century in philosophy, literature and arts journalism. For the Soviet context, this idea of constant transformation (including the energy one), was also consonant with the idea of permanent revolution and social change.
Electric fairy at the cover of Lumière-Electrique magazine, 1887
At the turn of the 20th century, the question "What is electricity?" had no definitive answer. In the 19th century, electricity had been thought of as a liquid, or several liquids, or the movement of particles. The highly ambiguous and mysterious nature of this phenomenon complicated ordinary people’s understanding and acceptance of it. Few wanted to allow such an incomprehensible force into their homes, especially when they feared it could be dangerous. Symbolically, this sense of an unknown yet vital energy found expression in the invention of the “electric fairy”, which often appeared in pre-revolutionary advertising materials.
F. Tamagno. Electric fairy poster, 1900
Such images anthropomorphized this unfathomable force and presented it in an accessible way – most often as a scantily clad young woman with her right hand raised, holding a new artificial light source, with a dynamo at her feet. Such images circulated in Europe, America and pre-revolutionary Russia.
Portrait of Vladimir Ilyich Lenin by Natan Altman
The Bolsheviks reconceived the image of the "electric fairy", turning the leader of the world proletariat, Vladimir Ilyich Lenin, into a demiurge and a symbol of electrification. The electric light that now lit up every home became known as “Ilyich's lamp”, which brought enlightenment (quite literally) and a new way of life to the masses. Incidentally, the expression “Ilyich's lamp” was circulated in newspapers after Lenin attended, in 1920, the opening of the country's first rural power plant in Kashin, Tver Region, built on the initiative of local peasants. Later, the myth of Lenin as the bringer of light was replicated in films, posters and books. Lenin didn’t just turn on the lights, he was identified, Christ-like, with light itself. Lenin was electricity.
A lamp with a spiral in the form of Lenin's head, 1950s. From the collection of the Museum of Moscow
Lenin as the "conductor of electricity" was also found in children's books. A new visual language and new techniques for representing electricity were created not only for kids’ literature, but for films, posters, painting, sculpture and architecture.
For Soviet ideologists and propagandists, an important feature of electrification was its connection to a central source. The supply network, which spread to all distant corners of the country, was centrally managed, that is, it linked the provinces to the center. This centralization was a core element in the formation of the Land of the Soviets. It was this that would surely make it possible to run the entire national economy from the center. And whereas the visible results of centralization date from the 1930s, when the first power control stations began to appear, the idea itself was already circulating in the 1920s.
Power line mast in Moscow, 1929. Photograph by Alexander Rodchenko from the Multimedia Art Museum collection
It was then that the power grid became a metaphor for understanding the new Soviet space, which was radically different to that of Tsarist Russia. This opposition was frequently visualized, for example, in cinema, where the previous space was depicted as formless, torn into separate, unconnected parts, while in the new one even the farthest-flung corner was connected to the center. The power grid became the tool that enabled remote villages to feel on a par with the big cities.
Poster "Electricity is a Great Power," 1920s. From the collection of the Russian State Library
In 1931, the philosopher and science historian Boris Kuznetsov published a pamphlet entitled "The Unified High-Voltage Grid of the USSR", in which he described why the power grid was so important and how it conformed with the ideas of dialectical materialism and the tasks of communism and socialism.
Electrifying everyday life
Table lamp with a figure of a standard-bearer, 1920s-1930s. From the collection of Mikhail Vilkin
Although many city apartments in the 1920s and 30s had electrical light and appliances, it was still too early to talk of mass electrification, which was still on the drawing board. The electrification of everyday life was promoted as a side benefit to the main task of electrifying production. At the same time, each connected electrical device was intended to save kerosene, a critical fuel for the economy. Additionally, it was assumed that electrification would deliver a crushing blow to the remnants of the past: out with the antediluvian samovar and smoke-belching primus stove, in with the clean and comfortable life of the future. One Soviet invention that represents the new rational living is the utopian electric cooker with alarm clock. When the alarm clock sounded, the water heater in the kitchen would turn on automatically, so when the worker came in for breakfast, hot coffee and boiled eggs were already waiting.
Table fan, 1930s. From the collection of Sergey Bobovnikov
One of the tasks facing Soviet engineers back then was how to use electrification to reshape the life of Soviet women, freeing them from kitchen slavery and providing more time for social work. In 1937, the magazine Obschestvennitsa (Community Woman) published a long article from the first-person perspective of a housewife complaining about how tiresome her life is: cooking, then washing, then cleaning, then cooking again, and so on every day of the week. She tells her husband about her difficulties, to which he replies that he would be happy to help. And so there appears in the kitchen an electric stove and an electric motor, drastically improving the woman’s life. This is one of the first approaches to the scientific management of daily life in the USSR.
The author, Natalia Nikiforova, is a culturologist, Candidate of Sciences (PhD) and postdoctoral researcher at the Poletayev Institute for Theoretical and Historical Studies in the Humanities, Higher School of Economics.
The major exhibition "Electrification. The 100th anniversary of the State Commission for Electrification of Russia (GOELPRO) plan" runs at the Museum of Moscow until Oct. 24. Russia Beyond would like to thank the museum for its assistance in preparing this article.
If using any of Russia Beyond's content, partly or in full, always provide an active hyperlink to the original material.
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