Climate Change Environment International Russia-Ukraine

Europe Dumps Its Climate Commitments After Facing Shortage of Russian Gas

The quick shift by rich European countries to “dirty” energy sources such as coal instead of managing demands raises serious concerns about the fate of global climate action and the future of the environmental movement.
(Photo: Julian Stratenschulte/dpa/picture alliance)

By Abdul Rahman / Peoples Dispatch

At least three major European economies have decided to go back on their commitments to “green energy” amid the ongoing energy shortage, putting a question mark on the future of the global environmental movement. This disastrous shift in policy is another example of how the West’s economic warfare against Russia has a global cost. 

People across the continent are facing an unprecedented rise in prices of essential commodities, including food and fuel, following the proxy war between the West and Russia in Ukraine and the imposition of various rounds of economic sanctions and cultural boycott against Russia. Common people are forced to suffer due to the collective mistakes of policy makers who failed to assess the possible repercussions of blindly pursuing geostrategic ambitions over the welfare of the people.  

The EU’s quick abandonment of its commitments to green energy in the context of this self-made crisis puts into question the future of global climate action and the regime set after the 2015 Paris climate agreement.  

Sanctions come back to bite Europe

The European Union (EU) has decided to completely ban import of Russian oil by the end of the current year, and plans to phase out its dependence on Russian gas by 2030. Earlier this month, in retaliation to the economic sanctions imposed by the EU and refusal to pay for gas in Rubles, Russia’s state owned Gazprom decided to shut gas supplies to various countries and reduce its supply to others, like Germany, by 60%. The EU has already imposed sanctions on Gazprom and decided to terminate approval for a new gas pipeline with Russia.  

While announcing the decision to shift to coal-fired power plants to produce the required electricity to meet its needs, Germany’s Economy Minister Robert Habeck said on Sunday that “to reduce gas consumption, less gas must be used to generate electricity. Coal-fired power plants will have to be used more instead.” He added that this was a bitter but necessary solution.

The move is a complete U-turn for Germany. The country’s new government, which includes the Greens, had in January decided to shut most of its coal plants by 2030 and completely eliminate coal-based energy production in the country by 2038. It had vowed to increase the share of renewables in energy production to up to 80% from the current 40% by 2030.   

Europe is also looking for alternative sources of gas. However, given the increased global demand due to the post-COVID-19 recovery and the lack of enough suppliers, mostly due to US sanctions on countries such as Iran, the job looks difficult.  

EU’s climate hypocrisy  

Various countries in Europe, including Italy, France and Germany, have announced an energy emergency. However, none of them have decided to focus on reducing the level of consumption or investing in alternative energy resources. This has compromised EU’s commitments to the climate regime and raises the issue of climate hypocrisy. 

Under the Paris agreement, the EU had agreed to cut its emissions by 55% by 2030 from 1991 levels. The shift to coal in a massive way in Europe’s biggest economies, Germany, Italy and others, will seriously affect this commitment. 

This was accepted by European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen who claimed that “we have to make sure that we use this crisis to move forward and not to have a backsliding on the dirty fossil fuels.” 

The decision to shift to coal-based production gives the false impression of lack of options. German policy makers have also paid little attention to reduction of energy consumption in various industries or delaying the shutting down of nuclear power plants.  Instead of calling for suspension of production in non-essential units for some period, Leyen and Habeck asked common Europeans to reduce their consumption of electricity. Leyen asked Europeans to decrease heating in their homes by two degrees, claiming that “this would compensate for the whole delivery [Nord] stream.” 

According to Habeck, Germany has entered the second phase of its natural gas emergency now, with just 57% gas reserves against the required 90%. Habeck said that Germany needs to save gas to face the coming winter, otherwise “it will be really tight in winter.”  

Similar announcements have been made by the governments in Netherlands and Austria. The Netherlands had a rule according to which all coal-fired power plants were expected to operate at 35% capacity. However, Rob Jetten, Netherland’s Climate and Energy Minister, said on Tuesday that “the cabinet has decided to immediately withdraw the restriction on production for coal-fired power stations.” 

Austria, which had ordered shutting down of all coal-based power plants two years back, decided on Sunday, June 19, to restart one of its biggest coal-based plants, operated by private energy giant Verbund AG. The country reportedly has just 39% of its annual gas needs assured. 

These decisions have raised serious concerns about the future of the global climate campaign. Several commentators have pointed out Europe’s hypocrisy as it keeps on suggesting to others, mostly third world countries, to shift away from fossil fuel often at the cost of their economic development, while refusing to make similar compromises and rushing to fossil fuels when hit by an energy shortage.

Abdul Rahman

Writer at Peoples Dispatch.

6 comments

  1. And you just figured this hypocrisy out now? After the EU and UK and USA try to kill Russian people, the Russian state, with their death defying sanctions? That Europe will get gas and coal and crude to run their life-saving and money-making systems?

    So, all those tourists in this EuroTrash Zones — Germany, France, Italy — they all come flying in on a magic carpet, right? A green carpet, sustainably grown fiber, fair trade labor, LGBTQA+ approved?

    The reality is big cities need cement, plastic, steel, aluminum, and, heck, asphalt, and so much more that gets churned out through heavy industry.

    Then all that A/C, even in winter, to cool the bloody engines of commerce? All going to be fueled by Greta Green Fairies and the Fairy Dust.

    So, the people in brick apartment buildings, and those townhouses and homes, all their needs will be taken care of with fairy dust? That energy?

    Take one sector at a time and see how much hydrocarbons are needed to fuel and grow those sectors.

    Look at every Google search, every cloud transaction, and see how much energy is on the back end (embedded to mine the crap that makes the computing world possible) and then on the front end.

    Talk talk talk, and COP COP COP. This is capitalism copping a feel from the greenie weenies and green priests and rabbis.

    We have real work to do to tear out the heart of the billionaire and millionaire and military and banking and propaganda and legal class.

    There will be blood, and there will not be a “green” Europe until culling of the top and their Eichmann’s begins now, err, 70 years ago.

    Tell an African to green up and shut up while each country is harvested illegally for organs, slaves, minerals, oil, data, lives. Green up and get on the Greta Cop a Green Feel Train!

    While the next next Omicron gets brewing in the fall with all those triple vaxxed folks churning out the next variant for all of us to freak out about.

    While the banking system is back at its dirty deeds to the 10th power:

    JPMorgan Chases Derivatives Spike by $14 Trillion in First Quarter to Six-Year High of $60 Trillion

    https://wallstreetonparade.com/2022/06/jpmorgan-chases-derivatives-spike-by-14-trillion-in-first-quarter-to-six-year-high-of-60-trillion/

    The US banking system has become so rotten and putrid even flies won’t land on it’s stinking carcass and you can thank Bill Clinton who repealed the Glass Steagall Act and Obama who bailed these rotten banks out and stuck the public with the tab.

    +–+
    How is that divesting from Exxon, Mobil, British Petroleum, Texaco, Shell going?

    This writer’s statement below is so so naive.

    “Various countries in Europe, including Italy, France and Germany, have announced an energy emergency. However, none of them have decided to focus on reducing the level of consumption or investing in alternative energy resources. This has compromised EU’s commitments to the climate regime and raises the issue of climate hypocrisy.”

  2. This US war of aggression, supported by its European poodles, is a climate disaster. The US “leadership” cares nothing about that. The US has not taken any meaningful action to reduce fossil fuel use. Its rhetoric and actions are a study in hypocrisy and duplicity. It is clear that the Europeans have no intention of actually cutting off the supply of Russian oil or gas. They will blow a lot of of hot air about how they are doing so, then buy it in the black market (at much higher prices of course). When the winter comes, what is to prevent Russia from cutting off all supplies which can be diverted by the Europeans and letting them get very cold and their factories shut down for lack of fuel. I do not think there is any viable alternative to Russian fuels which can be effectively used without a very long delay and at great cost.

  3. You know, nuclear power produces no carbon dioxide. However, nuclear fission requires another ‘fossil fuel’ (Uranium… a limited resource). Nuclear fusion, however, only requires ‘heavy hydrogen’, which is readily available in sea water. Perhaps, instead of spending almost a trillion dollars a year in the US on the military, we should consider transferring at least half of that to making a totally carbon-free energy source work.

    Not all ‘nuclear’ is the same.

    1. Research of nuclear fusion has been suppressed and abandoned 4o years ago so Today the only one serious fusion reactor is ITAR in southern France where fusion technology based of laser heating of heavy water D2O achieved over 100% efficiency (more energy out than in) However, this laser based fusion technology is completely economically and industrially impractical.

      And in fact it was a deception as they knew that all along but used it to develop high power laser technology that is being deployed to military of Russian, China and US.

      Why Nuclear fusion almost inexhaustible source of clean energy and most of all potentially distributed source of energy which combined with another suppressed/abandoned technology of room temperature superconductivity is capable of giving people energy independence on community or even individual level has been effectively suppressed?

      The answer is centralized concentrated global capital. Such capital having been heavily invested in fossil fuels won’t develop any technology that could potentially obliterate their fossil fuels profit and world energy slave like dependence on global capital.

      The revived ancient technologies like wind and solar (thermal) power are just Ponzi schemes aimed to fail real people’s needs and increase dependence and control over population.

      Individualized miniaturized Fusion technology could make local economies totally independent and free from control of global capital. Imagine car size fusion generator good for 500 years before refueling. These are not dreams this is in one form of another possible but unprofitable to global capital and hence won’t be funded.

      Just an example that I am not exaggerating technological suppression talk, electric car exceeding energy/power torque and range specs of top of the line Tesla today was invented seven years before modern design combustion engine was invented.

      Electric car technology was simply suppressed, defunded and abandoned by capital so fossil fuel industry could thrive and destroy out previous earth.

  4. Heidegger wrote, “it is not Russianism that will destroy Western Europe, it is Americanism”. he described amerikans as “putrefaction”….NATO I the amerikan attempt to coca-colonize Europe…the anglo and EU moron sanctions have benefitted Russian and produced contracting economies in EU/angloshere….amerikans do not learn from their mistakes—the empire is near collapse

  5. This is a perfect example of why many if not most people think that nothing will ever get done about global warming/climate change. Humans’ priorities couldn’t be more immoral and backward. Oil isn’t important except in a negative way. The climate, on the other hand, is fundamental to survival. Humans don’t deserve their lives, and the sooner they’re off the planet, the better.

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