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International Energy Agency looked at how to wean nations off Russia's fossil fuels

JUANA SUMMERS, HOST:

Russia's war on Ukraine has roiled the world's energy markets, and it added urgency to an already scheduled meeting of the International Energy Agency. Ministers and industry executives were supposed to talk about climate targets, but they had to confront the more immediate task of finding new sources of energy to replace Russia's fossil fuels. NPR's Eleanor Beardsley reports.

ELEANOR BEARDSLEY, BYLINE: As the meeting at the International Energy Agency wrapped up Thursday, IEA Director Fatih Birol said the two-day session was dominated by one overriding sentiment among the 31 member nations.

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FATIH BIROL: Reducing radically Russian oil and gas imports.

BEARDSLEY: Weaning Europe from Russian imports won't be easy. The EU relies on Russia for almost 45% of its natural gas, though the bloc has said it will cut that by two-thirds by the end of the year. U.S. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said Europeans can expect help from the U.S.

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JENNIFER GRANHOLM: We've delivered a clear message to our domestic oil and gas companies. We want that industry to ramp up production right now. We're exporting every molecule of liquefied natural gas.

BEARDSLEY: IEA member countries have already released 60 million barrels of oil from their reserves, and the body produced a pamphlet to help European consumers cut their reliance on Russian energy imports. It suggests reducing speed limits on highways by 10 kilometers an hour, cheaper public transportation, having car-free Sundays in large cities and working more from home. Hanging over the event was the tragedy of the war in Ukraine.

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BIROL: We are honored with your presence, sir. Thank you very much.

BEARDSLEY: Ukraine's deputy minister of energy for European integration, Yaroslav Demchenkov, traveled to Paris from Kyiv with a warning.

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YAROSLAV DEMCHENKOV: Putin wants you to think that Russian energy is irreplaceable. But this is not the case. Europe can and should take a set of action to make Russian energy unimportant.

BEARDSLEY: Europe and the world can do that, says Demchenkov, by staying on track to become carbon neutral by 2050. Attendees say Russia's war is proof the world needs to transition to cleaner energy. But in the meantime, Granholm says, the world needs to find new oil and gas sources.

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GRANHOLM: Both crises need addressing now. This is not an either or; it is a both and. We must both increase reliable supply right now and accelerate our efforts for clean energy.

BEARDSLEY: She calls the transition to clean energy the best long-term peace plan. Eleanor Beardsley, NPR News, Paris. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.