The European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has urged countries to continue investing in renewables after Austria and the Netherlands joined Germany in making plans to revert to coal as the region’s energy crisis intensifies.

The European Union is committed to a green transition, but the supply chain consequences of the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine have caused some nations to revert to burning fossil fuels in anticipation of a winter energy shortage.

In an interview with the Financial Times, von der Leyen said governments must stay focused on “massive investment in renewables”.

She added: “We have to make sure that we use this crisis to move forward and not to have a backsliding on the dirty fossil fuels. It’s a fine line and it’s not determined whether we are going to take the right turn.”

Italy and other EU nations are expected to follow the moves by Germany and Austria to switch back to coal, after Russia’s state-controlled Gazprom reduced supplies through the Nord Stream 1 gas pipeline to Europe by 60 percent last week.

Fears are growing on the continent of winter blackouts or energy rationing if supplies from Russia are cut further, or completely, reported the Daily Telegraph.

Rob Jetten, the Netherlands’ climate and energy minister, announced law changes on Monday that lifted a cap on production by coal-fired power plants.

The FT reported that European gas prices have surged more than 50 percent in the past week. It noted that gas is at least six times more costly within the Eurozone than it was prior to the pandemic.

The bloc aims to cut reliance on Russian energy, and von der Leyen said the EU must continue its push toward renewable energy sources while also finding alternatives to pipeline gas, such as cargoes of liquefied natural gas (LNG) from other regions.

Last week the bloc signed a deal with Israel and Egypt to procure gas in a bid to fortify storage facilities to a goal of 80 percent by winter, and producers such as Norway and Azerbaijan are increasing their output, giving the EU another alternative.

Von der Leyen said every effort was being made to ensure the EU would in future be able to say “we made the right choices”.

“It’s a lot of work still. And the circumstances are serious,” she added.

She also urged more nations to follow Germany’s lead in calling on its population to conserve energy.

“If we would decrease the heating in Europe by two degrees, or the cooling, less air conditioning, this would compensate the whole delivery of Nord Stream 1,” said von der Leyen.

“We have emergency plans in place that have the whole width of necessary steps, from the efficiency element, to energy savings, to prioritizing the needs,” she said.

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