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06 Apr 2022, 13:07
Sören Amelang

German industry supports Russian coal embargo, but warns against stopping gas imports

Clean Energy Wire

German industry association BDI said it supports the European Commission's proposal to ban the import of coal from Russia in reaction to possible Russian war crimes in Ukraine, but warned against extending the ban to gas imports. "The implementation is not easy and has its price, but the decision is more than understandable against the backdrop of the escalation of violence," the lobby group's head, Siegfried Russwurm, said. Russia's actions require targeted sanctions that are sustainable in the long term and don’t hurt Europeans more than Russia, the BDI said. "This is true for coal: it can be replaced on the world market by supplies from other countries and in principle brought to users with the existing transport infrastructure." The lobby group called on the German government to ensure that the logistical challenges posed by a coal import embargo are overcome without economic damage.

The BDI repeated its earlier warnings that a gas import ban would cause massive economic losses with far-reaching effects. "The situation with gas is completely different: a complete loss of Russian gas supplies that other suppliers cannot replace at short notice would be a huge stress test for the EU - with unforeseeable consequences for supply security, growth, employment and our political capacity to act," Russwurm said. In its quarterly economic outlook, the BDI said the effects of the war gravely dampen expectations. "A disruption to Russian gas imports remains a major risk, threatening to trigger production disruptions in many sectors via complex cascading effects."

The European Union has proposed a ban on coal imports from Russia in direct response to reports that Russian forces have allegedly committed war crimes in Ukraine, EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said, adding the EU will also push ahead with a debate on targeting Russian oil. Germany and the EU remain heavily dependent on imported fossil fuels, with Russia being the largest supplier of oil, gas and coal. Germany is particularly dependent on Russian energy imports, and the government has strongly rejected calls for a ban on gas imports over fears this would endanger supply security and cause grave economic harm.

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