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The West’s Energy Policy Can Be Geopolitical and Green

In the long run, it might be better for everyone if the fossil-fuel sector were to shrink worldwide. With Russia’s invasion of Ukraine prompting Western governments to devise energy policies that are both environmentally and geopolitically robust, that thought should help to concentrate minds.

CAMBRIDGE – Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has amplified the importance of national-security considerations in Western countries’ energy policies. At the same time, governments must continue to focus on reducing environmental damage – in particular, on cutting greenhouse-gas emissions. Both goals, geopolitical and environmental, are urgent and should be evaluated together.

These two objectives are not necessarily in conflict, as some believe. There are plenty of energy measures the West can adopt that would benefit the environment and further its geopolitical aims. The most obvious steps, especially for the European Union, are sanctions that reduce demand for imports of fossil fuels from Russia.

A review of different areas of energy policy reveals further options. Here, I emphasize the dos and don’ts that seem to be clear win-win choices, as opposed to policy decisions where tradeoffs are acute and reasonable observers may disagree.