Energy Crisis: What Path Does Germany Take?

Energy Crisis: What Path Does Germany Take?

by Ujjawal Mishra - Monday, July 18, 2022 06:18 PM IST
Energy Crisis: What Path Does Germany Take?German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock at G7 (GermanForeignOffice/Twitter)

Germany's policy of promoting non-fossil fuels, sitting right alongside its dependence on Russian gas, has landed it in a soup.

No to traditional fuels, including nuclear, has been Germany's stance for a while now.

  • German economy is dependent on gas, mainly supplied by Russia.

  • After the Ukraine war started, the US rushed in with sanctions on Russian gas, due to which Germany had to cut its gas purchases.

  • German homes are now forced to be without heating even before the winter arrives.

  • The current political alliance is yet to review the folly of a complete nuclear shutdown.

Follies in energy policy: Germany's environmental consciousness over the last couple of decades has been unusually passionate, not pragmatic, and its related politics have worryingly confused personal beliefs and inclinations with strategic state interest.

  • Former chancellor Angela Merkel’s much-hailed energy policy was only decried earlier for not being oriented enough towards the incorporation of alternative, renewable fuels.

  • With the Green Party in the ruling coalition, fossil fuels and nuclear energy are anathemas.

  • Despite extreme economic downturns, Germany’s quickest means to separate from Russian dependency remains unviable according to German politicians and even the general public.

Meanwhile, the US's role has not been adequately “partnerly.”

  • If the sanctions were not imposed due to the war in Ukraine, there was nothing fundamentally wrong with the ongoing arrangement where Russia provides for Germany's fuel needs while the US takes care of Germany's security.

  • However, due to the US’s attempt to ambitiously fulfill Germany’s energy requirements in addition to its military ones, it is only Germany that stands to lose.

  • The US simply does not have enough reserves to offer Germany, while, on the other hand, it would be extremely expensive for Germany to switch to American gas.

Russia isn't even hurting! In spite of the sanctions, Russia is more than okay.

  • The ruble is at its highest in decades. All of Europe is paying a higher price for Russian gas, which they have not been able to wean themselves off in a hurry.

  • Europe has been pushed towards higher crude-derivatives imports from China that are heavily dependent on Russian fuel anyway.

The NATO link: Lord Hastings Lionel Ismay, the first NATO Secretary General, said the alliance was created to “Keep the Soviet Union out, the Americans in, and the Germans down.”

  • Keeping the Germans down has always been part of the post-war security calculus due to its Nazi past, though this truth has been told progressively less in the last half century.

  • Today’s Germany is modern-minded, generally humanist, with largely liberal views socially, and relatively conservative economic perspectives.

  • Yet, if NATO is unable to prevent troubles for the German people, the latter will have to make some hard choices.

Three possible outcomes emerge out of Germany's decision-making.

  • German strategic policy will continue to be guided by the US and its local representative, Britain. This option ensures the subservience of Germany to Anglosphere decisions for the foreseeable future. Halting exports to Russia, with energy and economic viability-related issues leading to manufacturing deficits, will damage the German economy.

  • Germany will chart its own European course resulting in public disagreement with the Anglosphere (UK, US mainly) over the future of the Eurasian landmass and the end of NATO as currently configured. Key EU states — France, Italy, Spain, and possibly the Netherlands — will need to work in tandem with Germany for this. A European Security Council with a contemporary mandate will become necessary.

  • Germany withdraws from NATO, dilutes its role within the EU, and charts a course on its own. This would mean a return to pre-World War dynamics on the European mainland without the extreme nationalism. It is something that can happen if a way is not found to accommodate the reality that German energy requirements are best met with Russian supplies.

Making moves: German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has dramatically increased the defence budget.

It is the clearest sign so far that Berlin recognises that things cannot continue as they are.

Introspection time. As discontent brews, Germany may need to decide if the penalties are worth it, especially when Russia feels little impact.

Read in full: Russia-Ukraine War And Its Fallout Leave Germany At A Crossroads

Ujjawal Mishra is a Staff Writer at Swarajya. He tweets @Ujjawal1Mishra.
Get Swarajya in your inbox everyday. Subscribe here.

An Appeal...

Dear Reader,

As you are no doubt aware, Swarajya is a media product that is directly dependent on support from its readers in the form of subscriptions. We do not have the muscle and backing of a large media conglomerate nor are we playing for the large advertisement sweep-stake.

Our business model is you and your subscription. And in challenging times like these, we need your support now more than ever.

We deliver over 10 - 15 high quality articles with expert insights and views. From 7AM in the morning to 10PM late night we operate to ensure you, the reader, get to see what is just right.

Becoming a Patron or a subscriber for as little as Rs 1200/year is the best way you can support our efforts.

Become A Patron
Become A Subscriber
Comments ↓
Get Swarajya in your inbox everyday. Subscribe here.

Latest Articles

    Artboard 4Created with Sketch.