‘Tumultuous’ is the word that best describes energy in 2022 as Putin’s war on Ukraine and the subsequent energy crisis revealed the true cost of our dependence on oil. With transport the main consumer of oil, T&E’s work has never seemed so crucial: for our energy security and for our geopolitical security.
This was also the year that Europe started turning the corner in tackling our addiction.
Making the direct link between Russian oil sales to the EU and military spending, just days after Putin’s invasion T&E called for an embargo on Russian oil – or rather an import tariff. Such was Europe’s addiction to Russian oil that this seemed unthinkable at the time. Yet, on December 5th, it was enacted. Thanks to concerted US, EU and UK action, Russian oil now trades under a price cap.
But the structural knockout punch to Putin and his fellow petro-dictators was a different one. Cars guzzle up most of Europe’s oil. In 2022, the EU decided to end oil guzzling car and van sales.
Ten years ago, the thought that Europe could regulate the combustion engine to extinction was unthinkable. Back in the mid-2000s a top car lobbyist dismissed the very idea we’d one day regulate car CO2 emissions. Well it did happen, and despite last minute political interference that may yet create loopholes for e-fuels, most carmakers now accept the only future is a zero emission one. This marks the biggest single win in the history of T&E.
But it’s not just cars and vans that guzzle oil. Trucks, ships and planes account for the other half of EU oil demand in the transport sector.
In 2022, we saw decisive progress in each of those sectors. Shipping’s emissions are now in Europe’s cap and trade system, a global first, and aviation will be subjected to the world’s most advanced clean fuel mandate, and there’s hope something similar is achievable for shipping.
We are still a long way from freeing ourselves from our oil dependency, with powerful fossil fuel interests seeking to slow down and undermine the clean transport revolution. But if this year has shown us anything, it is that we cannot afford to lose.