The Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Union (COMECE) is calling for “collective solidarity” on the EU energy crisis as the winter months approach. The prelates implored European leaders to avoid socio-economic discrimination in the distribution of fuels and presented suggestions to this end. The missive was released on Monday, November 7, 2022.
COMECE began by placing the blame for the energy crisis firmly on the shoulders of Russia, its war with Ukraine, and the EU’s overdependence on oil and gas imports from just one supplier. This overdependence, the bishops wrote, “has allowed the ‘weaponization’ of energy supplies by Russia,” in the form of soaring energy prices.
In its guidance, COMECE instructed that the state is responsible for ensuring energy supplies are sufficient for all people. The statement noted that any energy policy that neglects to deal with “adequate basic needs” is unacceptable. COMECE considers the fair distribution of energy to be a matter of justice and cautioned world leaders not to allow energy to be misused as a means of geopolitical coercion.
The bishops wrote:
“Today, as winter is approaching in Europe, we call on all who bear responsibility in public life, not to abandon families and persons who are vulnerable or victims of socio-economic discrimination, unable to cope with soaring inflation and to pay for heating or electricity. This reinforces social inequalities and the energy divide.”
The bishops next turned their attention to the many hurdles that have been created by the energy crisis. They noted that hospitals in particular are facing difficult challenges to meet energy demands. Meanwhile, they noted that the “agri-food sector” has suffered due to rising energy costs and the scarcity of fertilizer. This has put food supplies at risk of disruption and has raised the average cost of food products.
COMECE called for protections to be put in place to ensure affordable food, especially for those living in “extreme poverty” who are in the most danger of suffering from food insecurity. The bishops reiterated that decisions made by the EU will ripple beyond European countries, and implored them to remember that this crisis concerns the entire world:
“In this context, we call for collective solidarity. We are mutually connected and dependent on each other, not only as individual persons and families, but also as societies and as an international community. Each of us is called to contribute to the concrete expression of this solidarity.”
The bishops concluded their letter with three appeals to European policy makers to ensure accessible and affordable energy, prioritize efficiency, and to seek partnerships that can lay the groundwork for a “new global energy system.”
The bishops also noted that, while the energy crisis may demand a greater use of fossil fuels in the short-term, increased research into alternative forms of energy should be encouraged. They wrote:
“Despite the pressing emergency, we must not lose sight of the long-term objectives of a just and sustainable energy transition.”