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Photo: Tetiana Shyshkina/Unsplash

How the EU can kick Russian gas for good

Protocol Climate

Hello, and happy post-Memorial Day weekend. Your Protocol Climate team hopes your beach days were sunny and your grilled hot dogs and/or tofu pups were properly cooked. We’re here to help you settle into the short week by looking at the EU gas ban, EVs in short supply, and Elon’s ask for commercial charging infrastructure.

The tech to keep the EU’s lights on

After a month of playing footsy with banning Russian oil imports, the European Union is ready to take the plunge. The bloc has a draft agreement to, uh, block most Russian oil imports by the end of this year. Its success will depend on what it does to ease the transition, including deploying climate-saving tech.

The EU’s oil ban will have huge repercussions. Nearly a quarter of oil imports come from Russia. Norway, the next-biggest importer, is responsible for just 9.4%. The EU ban — which is likely to become official on Wednesday — will cut off all oil transported by means other than pipeline. That exemption was essential to get Hungary and other landlocked countries to sign on to the agreement, but countries like Germany and Poland have said they’ll stop pipeline imports anyway. All that means 90% of Russian oil imports are going to be verboten in the EU soon.

Making up for that loss is both a challenge and an opportunity. The challenge is pretty obvious: How the heck do you replace the stuff the global economy runs on in the midst of a crisis? But then, that’s also the opportunity. The world has delayed addressing the climate crisis, and ending Russian oil imports is a chance to remedy that situation and hit a petrostate where it hurts.

  • The EU can’t end oil dependence overnight, and so the bloc will almost certainly increase imports from elsewhere while it winds down Russian imports over the course of the next six months.
  • Building new fossil fuel infrastructure, though, is a perilous road that could lead to climate ruin.
  • The move will also almost certainly drive up oil prices around the world.

The bloc has other options, though. The lowest-hanging fruit is cutting demand so that there’s no need to make up the shortfall in the first place. Doing so would also shelter the public from rising prices. And with the Russian oil phase-out taking place over the rest of this year, there’s plenty of time to implement those demand-side policies.

  • The International Energy Agency released a 10-point plan earlier this year to cut oil demand with such tried-and-true tactics as working from home and skipping business travel. Zoom may not seem like petrostate-smashing, climate-saving tech, but turns out it can be.
  • Car-free Sundays in city centers could also be a way to cut demand and make up for missing Russian oil. Again, a walk in the park may not seem like a way to crush Russia, but it is.
  • The EU itself has recognized the need to lower demand as a key way to make up for the coming oil shortfall, making it one of four pillars that will define this decade.

Climate tech large and small can also play a role. The EU created what it’s calling the RePowerEU Plan as a road map for this decade. It also has some big, long-term goals up its sleeve that will reduce the need for oil, Russian or otherwise.

  • The bloc’s plan calls for doubling solar capacity over the next three years. As the recent United Nations climate report shows, those kinds of quick-to-deploy clean energy technologies are the best tools we have at our disposal to decarbonize the world.
  • The humble heat pump is also a central part of the plan, with 10 million of them slated to be tossed in people’s homes over the next five years. Doing so would cut gas demand in the winter and reduce energy demand in the summer, all while saving people money — a rare triple win.
  • Separate from RePowerEU, the EU wants to keep turning the North Sea into the world’s leading offshore wind region. Earlier this month, four countries put out an ambitious plan to generate 150 gigawatts of wind energy in one of the gustiest places on Earth by 2050. That’s a tenfold increase from current installed capacity, but it’s also the type of ambition needed to save the climate.

All this will require political will and billions of euros to see it through. With the supply chain mess and spiking prices of everything — including the materials needed for the clean energy transition — none of it is easy. But the climate stakes are worth it. And so, too, are the humanitarian ones. "It's going to cost us more,” Latvian Prime Minister Krisjanis Karins said. “But it's only money. The Ukrainians are paying with their lives.”

Brian Kahn (email | twitter)

There aren’t enough EVs for driving season

Memorial Day marks the start of summer in the U.S., aka “driving season.” Despite record gas prices, people are hitting the road as usual for beaches, national parks and anywhere else they can beat the heat. But while electric vehicles are increasingly showing up on summer road trips, they’re not showing up nearly fast enough to meet demand.

AAA estimates 34.9 million people hit the road over the long weekend. That’s an increase of 4.6% over 2021 despite gas prices being 50% higher, though it’s slightly lower than the last pre-pandemic summer in 2019.

An increasing number of people are using EVs to get around. And this year, driving season is certainly much sweeter if you aren’t at the mercy of gas prices. But just like for gasoline, demand is outpacing supply amid a major EV shortage.

  • EV sales in the U.S. exploded in the first quarter of this year, though they represent a small sliver of the overall auto market.
  • Despite torrid growth in EVs on the road, automakers have warned the EV-interested of yearslong waits for new models. That’s due in part to the high prices of materials and — you guessed it — supply chain issues.
  • If you can get your hands on an EV, you’re in for a bargain. The monthly cost of ownership — how most people pay for their cars — is generally lower than gas-powered vehicles.
  • An Axios analysis using gasoline and electricity prices found that a gas-powered road trip costs roughly $0.13 to $0.20 per mile while an EV one is between $0.03 and $0.06.
— Lisa Martine Jenkins (email | twitter)


There are three things that companies need to know when it comes to setting climate goals. The first thing I would say is that if you're going to set a climate goal as a business, it needs to be a businesswide effort. It cannot live within just the corporate responsibility or the sustainability team as it often does.

Learn more

One big number: 10% of EV charging funds for heavy-duty vehicles

Tesla — alongside other EV companies and environmental groups — wrote a letter to the Biden administration last week arguing that 10% of the $7.5 billion allocated to EV charging in the bipartisan infrastructure bill should be devoted to bigger vehicles such as buses and trucks.

“Most public EV charging infrastructure has been designed and built with passenger vehicles in mind,” the groups wrote in the letter addressed to Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm and Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. “The size and location of spaces reflect an interest in servicing the driving public, not larger commercial vehicles.”

On the one hand, there are vastly more cars and light-duty trucks on the road than commercial vehicles, so prioritizing them makes sense. But while medium- and heavy-duty trucks make up just 5% of the vehicles on the road, they’re responsible for a quarter of transportation greenhouse gas emissions as well as a disproportionate amount of air pollution. Decarbonizing the big dogs of the transportation sector would mean more emissions reduction bang for the government’s buck.

Lisa Martine Jenkins

Hot links

The SEC is stirring the ESG pot. Last week, it issued new rules that would force asset managers to show the proof in the pudding of ESG or “green” funds.

The solution to “Mad Max?” This gel, apparently, which can wring water from thin air. Yeah, OK. It would’ve made the movies a lot more boring.

Clean energy tax credits aren’t dead yet. Sen. Joe Manchin is reportedly engaged in “encouraging” talks with Majority Leader Chuck Schumer about a package that would include energy and climate measures.

E-bikes aren’t just for fun or saving the planet. They’re also for war? Ukrainian fighters are using them on the battlefield due to their relative silence and speed.

Big cars are so last century. Washington, D.C., is poised to impose a $500 annual vehicle registration fee for vehicles weighing over 6,000 pounds in an attempt to disincentivize the purchase of oversized pickups and SUVs. EVs would get a 1,000-pound credit given the weight of the batteries. (Sorry, Hummer EV lovers, that’s not going to save you from paying up.)

New Mexico could be wind energy central. The state is already home to one of the largest wind farms in the U.S., and it’s poised to triple its capacity.

We are once again asking you to consider the Texas grid. It’s truly a marvel of engineering and policy for all the wrong reasons.

Brian Kahn and Lisa Martine Jenkins


There are three things that companies need to know when it comes to setting climate goals. The first thing I would say is that if you're going to set a climate goal as a business, it needs to be a businesswide effort. It cannot live within just the corporate responsibility or the sustainability team as it often does.

Learn more

Thanks for reading! As ever, you can send any and all feedback to See you Thursday.

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