Europe could face a critical shortage of natural resources such as oil, coal and gas in less than five years, a new report has said.
According to the report released by the Global Sustainability Institute at Anglia Ruskin University, several EU countries may run out of critical resources in less than a year, with those including the UK, France or Germany not having sufficient reserves to cover more than five years.
The general lack of domestic resources will further reinforce the dependence of Europe on energy imports from other countries, mostly Russia, Qatar or Norway.
Using the most recent data on known reserves and current consumption, researchers found the UK has 5.2 years of oil, 4.5 years of coal and three years of gas remaining.
France has less than a year's worth of its own reserves of oil, gas and coal.
Italy has less than a year of gas and coal, and only one year of oil.
"These maps show vulnerability in many parts of the EU and they paint a picture of heavily-indebted European economies coming under increasing threat from rising global energy prices,” said Aled Jones, director of the Global Sustainability Institute.
"It is vital that those shaping Europe's future political agenda understand our existing economic fragility.The EU is becoming ever more reliant on our resource-rich neighbours such as Russia and Norway, and this trend will only continue unless decisive action is taken," he said.
The action to be taken, apparently, involves developing new energy resources, including renewables, to decrease the reliance on imported supplies.
"The UK urgently needs to be part of a Europe-wide drive to expand renewable energy sources such as wave, wind, tidal, and solar power," said Professor Victor Anderson, also from the institute.
The maps are part of the Global Resource Observatory (GRO) project being carried out by the Global Sustainability Institute, which examines the relationship between the world economy and the environmental factors and resources it depends on.
“The report by the Global Sustainability Institute highlights the ’relative energy poverty’ that many European countries and the UK experience, particularly with regard to fossil fuels,” Frederik Dahlmann, Assistant Professor of Global Energy research at the Warwick Business school commented. “While the UK will not run out of energy in five years’ time, politicians must do more to encourage ‘new energy entrepreneurs and business solutions’ to accelerate the shift towards an affordable, secure, low-carbon economy,” he said.
Unlike most western countries, some eastern European states still have sufficient reserves to cover several decades. According to the report, Bulgaria still has enough coal to cover 73 years, while Poland would survive for 34.
Germany has over 250 years left of coal but less than a year of oil and only two years of gas.
By comparison, Russia has over 50 years of oil, over 100 years of gas and over 500 years of coal, based on their current levels of internal consumption.