CLICK HERE TO LISTEN. On one hand climate scientists point out that the use of methane gas must be phased out; on the other, millions of people are suffering from rising gas prices. How does Russia’s war on Ukraine, and Germany’s suspension of the NordStream 2 pipeline from Russia, change this terrain? And is it possible to transition away from gas without an explosion in energy poverty – or a planned decrease in energy use? Simon Pirani (who writes this blog) and Oliver Bugge Hunt, who is researching the politics of pipelines at the University of Copenhagen, talked about this on an Earthcare fieldcast. 25 May 2022. CLICK HERE TO LISTEN.
I wrote this last week, and this morning it already looks out of date. Very broad sanctions are being imposed on Russia; Germany and the EU are rushing arms to Ukraine; and Belarus appears to be joining the attack on Ukraine. Nevertheless, the comments about Putinism may be of interest.SP.
Russia’s war in Ukraine will capsize its relations with Europe now, and for the long term. Its valuable trading partnership with Germany has been disrupted; by freezing certification for the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, Germany has opened a rift that could widen further.
Whatever the Kremlin’s war aims are – and at time of writing they are unclear – it has decided they are worth the sacrifice of Russian capital’s short-term economic interests.
Nord Stream 2, a 1,200-kilometre pipeline running from north-west Russia under the Baltic Sea to Germany, alongside the existing Nord Stream 1 line, is completed, but will perhaps never be used. Both pipelines are owned and operated by Gazprom, Russia’s state-backed energy giant.
For years, German politicians defended the new pipeline in the face of calls from Ukraine to sanction it. Indeed, the chair of Nord Stream’s shareholder committee is the former German chancellor Gerhard Schroeder. In July last year, towards the end of Angela Merkel’s term as chancellor, Germany struck a deal with the US – which had previously imposed some sanctions on the project – that allowed it to go ahead.
But on Tuesday, within hours of Russian president Vladimir Putin recognising the separatist self-proclaimed ‘republics’ of Donetsk and Luhansk in eastern Ukraine, and approving open military support for them, the new German chancellor, Olaf Scholz, announced that his government had withdrawn an impact report on the pipeline, meaning that the German regulatory authority cannot approve it.