The prime minister, Mario Draghi, addressed critics with a joke that has also gone “viral”. Speaking of a proposal to quickly abandon Russian gas, damage Moscow’s economy and force Vladimir Putin to withdraw troops from Ukrainian territory, he replied: “Do you want peace or do you want to turn on the air conditioner?” Indeed, says Professor Leonardo Piketty, Professor of Political Economy at the University of Rome, Tor Vergata and author of several articles on sustainable economics, the question is poorly posed: “I don’t really like debate these days, in some cases it is believed that the only alternative to Russian gas is Russian gas. Else We need to replace Russian gas with renewable energy.
Professor, what is the impact of economic sanctions on Russia so far?
“Russia’s strength lies in the sale of raw materials, especially oil and gas. There could be a strong impact if we quickly shut down oil and gas supplies but we failed to do so. For Italy, that means cutting energy supplies by a fifth. But what we can do is to announce that within two years we will stop the supply of Russian gas and oil.”
Will it have an effect?
“Yes, it will have an effect on the market. If the announcement is well-formed, it will not have a secondary effect. Sanctions are important but not with them we can block Russia. So far Russia has reacted well, the freezing of foreign assets of the Central Bank initially led to a collapse The ruble lost a lot of its value. But then the government forced the companies that sell oil to convert the money they earned into rubles.”
We still pay in euros
“Yes, but it is enough for Gazprom and other companies to commit to converting euros into rubles and the value of the currency is supported.”
So the threat that we will have to buy gas in rubles?
“I do not think that there will be a confrontation over this, it is in the interest of both parties that the relationship continues. Of course, it is not as if sanctions do not have a full effect: in Russia inflation and interest rates have already reached 20%. The population is suffering from the consequences of sanctions.”
Could the fact that the population is affected lead the Russian government to reduce the size of its military spending?
“Sanctions in general strengthen the consensus of authoritarian governments, because they tell the citizens that it is the enemies who put them in difficulty, and therefore they are able to increase the cohesion of the population. It is no coincidence that Putin’s consensus has increased, not decreased. Of course, Russia can be urged to spend less on armament, but this is achieved above all by preventing the supply of important electronic components, especially since the best components are American components.”
The Prime Minister says that to help achieve peace, we must reduce consumption, even if we are already covered until the fall. What do you think?
“We must replace Russian gas with renewable energies, not only for the sake of peace but also for collective health and to combat climate change. Today it is already possible to independently produce energy and get rid of gas, and I do not understand why this aspect is not emphasized. We should reach 40% of the energy produced from renewable energy sources by 2030, and we are at 16% and as he said Prophet There are proposals to establish wind power and photovoltaic plants, which account for 150% of Russian gas. The real problem is accelerating these licenses, not replacing gas with another.”
Some say it takes time, we need gas or energy right away
“It is enough to authorize and we can do it in a year or two.”
A year or two of war?
“No, of course, but let’s take the opportunity to hurry. The possibility of individuals or companies to place the panels is faster, and it is done within a few months. Incentives should be given by giving tax credits, at the moment there are only for the southern regions and their total value is 150 million. Then the state can immediately decide to place the panels in all public buildings and encourage the panels in the parking lots which have a double positive effect: they produce energy and protect cars from the summer sun. Some companies made this investment before the war and already have an advantage. We must give this signal and create energy societies in which citizens become energy producers.”
How do they work?
“Citizens become consumers, and up to 30,000 meters can be grouped together. They produce energy together, perhaps with a large system over a school, for example, and those who use it immediately are rewarded.”
Isn’t storage a problem?
“Production is not always the same, but there is a technology for accumulating energy, using batteries or hydroelectric power stations. It is a problem that has already been technically resolved.”
Are there countries that have already done this?
Especially Denmark and California. California has 90% renewable energy use and 60% on average. In short, you can work to be independent from an energy standpoint. Even the Arab countries, the UAE for example, are investing in photovoltaics.”
They know there are emissions issues and why it’s cheaper to produce energy economically. Comparing costs tells us what is the cheapest way to produce energy.”
Yesterday a wind farm in Sardinia was banned for landscaping reasons.
Landscaping is certainly important but all aspects have to be taken into consideration, especially when we are talking about offshore wind farms.”