The European Union on Tuesday proposed a ban on Russian coal, the first proposal targeting Russia’s energy industry, The Associated Press reports.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said that the EU needed to ramp up financial pressure on Russian President Vladimir Putin in response to what she called “heinous crimes.” Images over the weekend showed civilians killed by Russian troops lying alongside streets in the suburbs of the capital Kyiv after they withdrew.
The EU ban on Russian coal would amount to about $4.4 billion per year, von der Leyen said.
The EU is also exploring additional sanctions, including a ban on Russian oil imports.
“To take a clear stand is not only crucial for us in Europe but also for the rest of the world,” von der Leyen said. “A clear stand against Putin’s war of choice. A clear stand against the massacre of civilians. And a clear stand against the violation of the fundamental principles of the world order.”
Gas not on the table:
Though the United States already banned Russian energy imports, the EU has been reluctant since some of its members are highly reliant on Russian energy.
Despite the talk of additional sanctions targeting its energy sector, there is no consensus among the EU’s 27 members on whether to ban Russian gas, which could cripple the economies of countries like Germany.
The UK said it would cut off Russian oil, though not gas.
Poland said it would ban coal and oil, but not gas.
Lithuania is the only country that has cut off Russian natural gas so far.
Coal not a “game changer”:
Energy policy expert Simone Tagliapietra told the AP that the EU imports about $20 million worth of coal per day compared to $850 million worth of oil and gas.
The coal ban “is important because it breaks the energy taboo,” he said, but is not “a game changer.”
“Targeting coal for the moment is too prudent, it’s too symbolic and the time for symbolic measures is gone,” he said. “It’s not with coal that Putin can get rich or sustain the funding of the war. The big flow of money is certainly oil and gas, not coal, and that’s the issue.”