Former US vice-president Al Gore said European governments must push back against efforts by fossil fuel companies to capitalize on the energy crisis by trapping consumers into a long-term dependence on hydrocarbons. .
Countries are rushing to balance their green ambitions with the need to ensure energy security. At least 50 billion euros spent planned by EU governments this winter on fossil fuel infrastructure and supplies after oil, gas and coal imports from Russia fell amid sanctions and restrictions imposed placed after the invasion of Ukraine.
“We must resist efforts by gas, oil and coal sellers to curb the growing long-term reliance on fossil fuels, which has come with the rise of fossil fuels,” Gore told the Financial Times. long-term increase in greenhouse gas emissions”.
Gore, who co-founded sustainable hedge fund management firm Generation Investment Management in 2004 with financier David Blood, said fossil fuel suppliers “will seek to secure as much contract duration as possible.” as long as possible” in supply agreement negotiations.
He added: “Countries planning their strategies must be vigilant in all those negotiations, whether with private companies or with sovereign states.
As winter approaches, the EU and its member states are working to protect consumers from higher energy prices, while diversifying Russia’s fossil fuel imports. Some of the proposed measures include a wind tax on non-gas energy producers and a separate tax on oil and gas producers.
Gore said that most countries appear to be striking a “successful balance” but warned that governments must be “extremely cautious” to ensure they limit fossil fuel-related spending. for programs that will assist in the short-term supply decline. [but] will not lock us into decades of higher greenhouse gas emissions in the future.”
EU countries are increasing Import of liquefied natural gas from countries including the US and Algeria, with plans for 19 floating storage and redeployment projects at an estimated cost of €9.5 billion.
The war in Ukraine has highlighted the urgent threat that fossil fuel dependence poses to global security and democracy, Gore said, arguing that such dependence exacerbates the geographical situation. political “unrest that Russia is trying to make worse and the blackmail they are trying to induce”.
Gore accused fossil fuel companies of using “legacy networks” to lobby for favorable political treatment, alleging that “they mimic the tobacco industry strategies of many decades ago – disinformation on an industrial scale”.
Although renewables account for about half of the total US electricity production of the EU, Gore is confident that the US will build momentum to reduce emissions after the Inflation Reduction Act is passed. He called the legislation, which includes key measures to support green energy and infrastructure, “a historic event”.
Gore also joined the debate surrounding the backlash to environmental, social and governance investments in the US. Nineteen state attorneys general, all Republicans, sent a letter to BlackRock last month, accused the world’s largest money manager of prioritizing “operations” over fiduciary obligations to their state pension funds.
Gore said wealth managers have a fiduciary duty to their clients “to maximize returns using all relevant factors that need to be taken into account”, including considerations non-financial such as climate risk.
“I think it is unlikely that the courts will allow politically motivated officials to order asset managers to ignore the obvious factors involved,” he added.
Gore was speaking as Generation Investment Management released its annual sustainability trends report. It found that global carbon emissions from electricity generation could start to decline within a few years as renewable sources such as wind, solar and hydro become a larger part of the energy mix. quantity.
He said the shift to low-emissions vehicles has peaked, with electric and hybrid vehicles now accounting for nearly 10% of the industry’s global sales.
However, he cautioned that a number of problems – such as low levels of investment in clean energy, especially in developing countries, and shortages of minerals such as lithium – need to be addressed to accelerate the transition to low carbon energy.
He added: “We need to move quickly despite the geopolitical situation we are facing – it really is.