The European Union is preparing for the possibility that Russia will stop delivering natural gas needed by many member states to heat homes, generate electricity and power factories.
In a statement Wednesday, the EU Commission asked countries to voluntary reduce their consumption and to grant the EU the power to impose reductions in case of emergency.
The goal is to reduce demand by 15% from August to the end of March.
“Russia is blackmailing us. Russia is using energy as a weapon. And therefore, in any event, whether it’s a partial, major cutoff of Russian gas or total cutoff of Russian gas, Europe needs to be ready,” EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said.
Since Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine in late February, EU countries have stopped importing Russian coal and most Russian oil. The bloc has sought to find other sources of gas, while also ramping up plans to rely more on alternative energy sources to move away from reliance on Russian supplies.
But those efforts are not expected to keep up with energy demand once winter arrives.
The EU Commission statement urged people to save energy now, saying using other fuels will make more gas available in the winter.
“Acting now will reduce the negative GDP impact, by avoiding unplanned actions in a crisis situation later. Early steps also spread out the efforts over time, ease market concerns and price volatility, and allow for a better design of targeted, cost-effective measures protecting industry,” the statement read.
EU members are set to consider the requests at a meeting next Tuesday.
Some information for this report came from The Associated Press and Reuters