Energy crisis looms for UK France and Italy

Published: 15 May 2014 at 10:34

New Anglia Ruskin report shows threat to EU countries from natural resource shortages

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A new report launched today [Friday, 16 May] warns that a number of countries in the European Union, including France, Italy and the United Kingdom, are facing critical shortages of natural resources.

Produced by the Global Sustainability Institute at Anglia Ruskin University, the natural resource maps indicate that some countries have less than a year of energy resources remaining and are almost entirely dependent on imports from the likes of Russia, Norway and Qatar.

By using the most recent data on known reserves and current consumption, the maps show that 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.  The UK fares only slightly better, with 5.2 years of oil, 4.5 years of coal and 3 years of gas remaining. 

Some Eastern European members fare much better, with 73 years left of coal in Bulgaria and 34 years of coal in Poland.  Meanwhile, Germany has over 250 years left of coal but less than a year of oil and only 2 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. 

Dr Aled Jones, Director of the Global Sustainability Institute at Anglia Ruskin, said:

“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.  
“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.”

Professor Victor Anderson of the Global Sustainability Institute added:

“Coal, oil and gas resources in Europe are running down and we need alternatives.  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.”

The full report, which also highlights issues such as food and water insecurity in North Africa and the Middle East, is available to download at

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 GRO project has been generously supported by the Peter Dawe Charitable Trust. 

The full GRO Database of social, environmental and economic data will be made freely available to download this summer.