"The big lesson of Russia-Ukraine with respect to energy is we are still very dependent on carbon, Europe is still very dependent on carbon. And while everyone wants renewables and the environmental benefits from it, we still have a very small percentage of our global energy market really coming from renewables," Rubenstein told FOX Business.
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Rubenstein made the comments at the CERAWeek by S&P Global energy conference in Houston.
The annual gathering of global leaders in energy and government was roiled by Russian President Vladimir Putin's invasion of Ukraine, which has caused gas prices to spike to record highs as the West slaps massive sanctions on Russia. Those include a U.S. ban on imports of Russian oil.
The Carlyle Group co-chairman, who previously worked in the Carter administration, added that green energy can't yet sustain the West in a situation like the Russia-Ukraine war.
"When there's a crisis you can't say, 'Let's get more renewables,' because it's not ready yet," he said. "So I think carbon is gonna be important for quite some time. I wish it wasn't the case, but it's the reality."
Rubenstein added: "The big story at CERA this week is that basically people recognize that carbon is still a major factor in the global energy market. And while there's been more discussion on renewables over the last year than carbon, in truth, carbon energy is still here and we still are very dependent on it – and it's not gonna change any time soon."
In the interview with FOX Business Rubenstein also reflected on the "sad situation" of the Russia-Ukraine war. He said his ancestors came from Ukraine, just like many Americans.
Rubinstein continued to laud how the West responded to the threat from Putin with a striking level of unity.
"The West has done more than anybody thought it would do, certainly more than Putin thought it would do, and I think Putin completely underestimated what the West has done," he said.
"Could the West have done more before the invasion? Historians will debate that," he added. "But on the whole I think the administration should get high marks and NATO should for what it's done."
Rubenstein said because of the harsh sanctions, he expects that "Putin will ultimately blink" and look for an "off-ramp," even if that does not come until after weeks more of war.