• Business execs want the EU to ramp up its transition to green energy to cut off Russian oil. 
  • Over 100 companies including Microsoft and H&M signed the open letter to the EU published Wednesday.
  • The Ukraine war has put pressure on the EU to ban oil from Russia, its main energy supplier.

As the Ukraine war puts pressure on Europe to ban Russian oil imports, a group of CEOs and business execs say the EU should "double down" on its transition to renewable energy.

In a letter to the EU, over 100 companies including Microsoft, Unilever, Neiman Marcus, and H&M urged the European Commission on Wednesday to incorporate long-term sustainability goals into any proposed sanctions on Russia's energy sector.

The letter is an example of climate lobbyists using the global shift away from Russian fossil fuels as an impetus to accelerate climate neutrality initiatives, such as Europe's Fit for 55 package, arguing that the time is right to further invest in greener long-term solutions.

Addressed to European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, the document includes a list of recommendations endorsed by the corporations. 

"At the core of the current energy security and price crises sits an overdependence on volatile, imported fossil gas, oil and coal," said the letter, which was organized by Corporate Leaders Group, a trade group based out of the University of Cambridge that pushes for climate neutrality initiatives. "Measures taken in response to the invasion of Ukraine must prioritise structural and just solutions that can deliver on the green and digital transition and respond to the level of emergency that we face."

"This is the time to be bold and double down on delivering the Green Deal and achieve 'rapid, deep and immediate' cuts to carbon emissions," the letter continues.

The European Commission proposed an embargo on Russian oil last week that would ban crude oil imports within six months and cut off refined oil imports by the end of this year. 

"Let us be clear: it will not be easy. Some Member States are strongly dependent on Russian oil," von der Leyen said in a speech last Wednesday, adding that "to help Ukraine, our own economy has to remain strong."

Energy production and usage accounts for more than two-thirds of the EU's greenhouse gas emissions, according to the European Green Deal website. Before the Ukraine war, approximately 30% of crude oil imports and 40% of natural gas imports to the EU came from Russia.

EU leaders are "working intensely" to prepare for the presentation of its detailed REPowerEU plan in the coming days and have agreed on the need to end Russian fossil fuel imports "as soon as possible," a spokesperson for the European Commission told Insider. 

For Europe to successfully cut off Russian oil while maintaining energy security and affordability, "major infrastructure changes" would be required, Regina Mayor, KPMG's US national sector leader of energy and natural resources, told CNBC in March.

If the ban is approved, the EU would need to find alternative gas and oil suppliers to keep the lights on until its renewable energy network can stand on its own, as Reuters has reported. However, the move could reduce fossil fuel emissions in the longterm, according to the industry publication E&E News

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