Solemn proclamations of net zero emissions are everywhere these days. The President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, even claims that climate neutrality is “our European destiny”. Then last month EU commissioner Mairead McGuinness put the cat among the eco-pigeons by reclassifying nuclear and natural gas as “green”.
n this new dispensation, Ireland has some catching up to do. Under current Irish law, nuclear power generation is illegal here. However, we do not seem to have any difficulty using nuclear power, which is produced in the UK and elsewhere and delivered via electricity interconnectors.
Even more bizarre is that we fund nuclear energy research through our membership of the European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom). All of this could be dismissed as yet another ‘Irish solution to an Irish problem’, but we’re not the only ones grappling with climate and energy contradictions.
Most wrong decisions are obviously bad in hindsight, but some are bad enough to be recognized as such in advance. For Europe, allowing a petro-dictator like Vladimir Putin to strangle its oil and gas supplies has always been a patently bad decision. Especially since Putin has been crystal clear for decades about his hostile intentions toward everything the West stands for.
Fueled by years of Green Agenda activism, energy policy has been reduced to a form of populist virtue signals that effectively ignore the vital issue of energy security. Then aIMany of these practices have now been uncovered with disastrous consequences for business, industry and consumer livelihoods.
Not only have we given a dictator like Putin the whip hand in our energy supply, we have also allowed the issue of climate change to be grasped by a small group of eco-enthusiasts. They turned it into a millennial crusade led by a teenage saint who summoned the kind of apocalyptic visions common in the Middle Ages.
This, in turn, has led to the adoption of policies that have bizarre and contradictory implications. Putin’s invasion of Ukraine helped expose the energy dilemma currently facing many countries, including Ireland.
In Germany, for example, Angela Merkel’s government has decided to shut down all of its 12 nuclear reactors by 2022 because of Fukushima. Merkel then committed Germany to Putin’s Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline deal. With Nord Stream 2 now shut down due to sanctions, Germany is scrambling to find replacements to keep the lights on and homes heated.
The lesson here is simple: knee-jerk emotional responses are never a good basis for shaping long-term national energy policies.
The EU has also refused to sign off on US President Joe Biden’s embargo on Russian oil and gas. Despite repeated promises by the EU to “de-russify” its oil and gas supplies, governments across the EU are now reluctant to face the political consequences of a sudden energy transition. Instead, like Germany, they continue to pay hundreds of millions of euros a day to fund Putin’s war machine.
As a result, we ended up in a completely unfavorable position. On the one hand, European taxpayers are funding massive shipments of military equipment to Ukraine to fight the Russian invaders. On the other hand, they are themselves financing the military invasion through massive oil and gas payments to Russia. This also has the unfortunate side effect of setting a floor price for our much vaunted ‘European assets’ – expressed in petro dollars.
All of this is a matter of poor judgment rather than bad luck. The EU’s continued failure to recognize the importance of energy in issues of war and peace is all the more puzzling given that the EU itself began as the European Coal and Steel Community.
An equally absurd situation has developed in the United States. A little over a year ago America was energy independent, the world’s largest energy producer and a net exporter of oil and gas. That independence was jettisoned by Biden. He canceled the Keystone pipeline, which brought oil from Canada, and then gave the green light to the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, which brought gas from Russia.
Strategic energy flaws have reduced Biden to defying Saudi Arabia, Venezuela and, of all countries, Iran, and begging them to increase oil production. In the case of Iran, its warmongering leaders are being offered a soft new nuclear deal to turn on the oil spigots.
Where’s the logic in that? It defies reason that Saudi, Venezuelan or Iranian fossil fuels are somehow less harmful to the environment than Texas oil or Pennsylvania natural gas. However, an explanation for this contradictory behavior can be found in Tip O’Neill’s aphorism that all politics is local.
With his administration hocked by the extreme left of the Democratic Party, Biden believes it is better to placate Iran’s leaders and the Venezuelan dictator than confront his own left wing.
In a broader sense, we in the West have to deal with the consequences of our previous actions and omissions. The complex issues surrounding energy supply and climate change should no longer be determined by off-the-shelf ideological positions.
They shouldn’t be the preserve of climate change gimmicks, by the way, attended by jet-set celebrities and shabby politicians. Only the catastrophic humanitarian crisis in Ukraine has helped clear some of our fuzzy thoughts on energy policy. We need adults in the climate change space now more than ever.
https://www.independent.ie/opinion/comment/energy-policy-is-far-too-vital-to-be-left-up-to-the-zealots-of-the-left-or-the-right-41491486.html Energy policy is far too important to be left to zealots on the left or right