Russia Is Prolonging The Gas Shutoff
Perhaps the only true benefit of the current European energy crisis is to make apparent to an economically motivated citizen population that “wishing and hoping” will not make the Green New Deal renewable energy dream a reality. Instead of doubling down on wind and solar power, the EU nations are reacting to Moscow’s natural gas shutdown with a scramble to find enough hydrocarbon fuels to keep Europeans warm this winter.
On September 5, Russia announced that the shutdown of natural gas to Europe to make repairs Nord Stream 1 pipeline would not resume in full until the “collective West” lifts sanctions against Moscow over the Ukraine invasion. Since the EU appears determined to “punish” Moscow, the reality is that Europe may have seen the last of Russian gas for a very long time.
The failure of renewables to fill a viable role in the energy grids needed to fuel an advanced industrial economy has forced European energy ministers to do what once was unthinkable—return to nuclear power. German Economy Minister Robert Habeck won his push to keep nuclear power plants online. On September 5, Germany responded to Russia’s announcement by keeping two nuclear plants available this winter in a policy shift extending the legislative and regulatory deadlines that climate activists had demanded to phase-out nuclear power plants.
Russia’s announcement also marked the death knell for US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen’s encouragement to G7 finance heads this past June that they should cap the global price of Russian natural gas and oil. Since the Ukraine invasion began, Russia has earned 158 billion euros ($157.60 billion) exporting oil and natural gas, with Russia planning to increase oil shipments to Asia to compensate for cutting off oil and natural gas to Europe, all while the counterproductive G7 price cap remains in place.
Image: Desperate Poles line up for coal before winter. YouTube screen grab.
In July, the European Council got member states to agree that the only solution to Europe’s mounting energy crisis was voluntarily to reduce natural gas demand by 15 percent. Europe may ultimately have no choice but to acknowledge that it is folly to shut down existing hydrocarbon and nuclear energy sources until sufficiently robust, scalable, and reliable (i.e., not intermittently available) wind and solar technologies are up and running.
Nonetheless, globalist heads of international non-governmental organizations (NGOs) continue to insist that the EU must stay on the decarbonizing course to avoid catastrophic climate change. On September 6, Fatih Birol, head of the International Energy Agency (IEA), rejected the narrative that the EU energy crisis is a massive setback to tackling global warming. In a Financial Times article, Birol urged readers not to believe “all the negative narratives about the energy crisis.” Instead, he argued for continued confidence that the energy crisis in the EU today will “help speed up the shift to a cleaner and more secure energy future.”
EU citizens, however, seem more concerned about staying warm in the coming winter than achieving the Net Zero Emissions (NZE) goals set by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Policy Change (IPCC). In Germany, for the last couple of months, internet searches for Brennholz [in English, “firewood”] exploded as worried citizens prepare for imminent natural gas shortages. Deutsche Bank predicts that German households will be reduced to chopping wood for heating purposes where possible this winter.
Despite the late summer heat in Poland, in what’s a grim rerun of the communist era, dozens of cars and trucks lined up at Lubelski Wegiel Bogdanka to try to obtain coal to tide them over the winter. Around 3.8 million households in Poland rely on coal for heating, and they now fear shortages and price hikes. In response, state-owned mines are starting to ration distribution to power plants. It’s also started trying to sell coal to individual customers online.
In Great Britain, household gas and electric bills may almost double this winter because, at the end of August, the UK energy regulator Ofgem raised by 80 percent the price restriction on home energy bills. While the annual energy price cap for a household was £1,971 ($2,271), on October 1 it will increase to £3,549 ($4,090). It’s certain now that UK households will increase in October from £1,971 ($2,271) to £3,549 ($4,090) for a typical household. In response, over 100,000 Britishers have taken the pledge that they will not pay their natural gas and electricity bills unless the government intervenes with meaningful household energy subsidy payments.
How things have changed since July 2021, when EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyden put the EU on a policy to become climate neutral by 2050. At that time, she declared that “the fossil fuel economy has reached its limit.” But with 60 percent of British factories in danger as energy bills soar, pursuing the IPCC’s renewable fuel NZE utopia has faded in importance. In her first speech upon taking office, Britain’s new prime minister Liz Truss did nothing to suppress rumors of a £100 billion ($113 billion) energy stimulus package to help stem the cost-of-living crisis.
Having gone all in on “green” energy, Europe is facing the ugly reality of renewable fuels. It remains to be soon whether Europeans (or America’s Green New Deal proponents, for that matter) will learn from the experience.
Since 2004, Jerome R. Corsi has published 25 books on economics, history, and politics, including two #1 New York Times bestsellers. In 1972, he received his Ph.D. from the Department of Government at Harvard University. He currently resides in New Jersey with his family. In June, Post Hill Press published his current book, The Truth About Energy, Global Warming, and Climate Change: Exposing Climate Lies in an Age of Disinformation.