In their panic to keep the lights on, policymakers across Europe and Asia are reopening coal mines, keeping polluting power plants alive and signing deals to import liquefied natural gas (lng). State-owned oil giants, such as the uae’s adnoc and Saudi Aramco, are setting aside hundreds of billions of dollars to boost output, even as private energy firms mint enormous profits. Many governments are encouraging consumption of these dirty fuels by subsidising energy use, to help citizens get through the winter.
Yet the reality is that the return of brown fuels is a subplot in a much grander story. By making coal, gas and oil scarcer and dearer—prices remain well above long-run averages, despite recent falls—Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has given renewable power, which is mostly generated domestically, a significant strategic and economic edge.
All over the world officials are raising renewables targets and setting aside huge sums to bankroll a build-out.