Germany will continue to burn coal, the most polluting of fossil fuels, in response to concerns about power shortages due to a reduction in Russian supplies, Germany’s economy minister said.
Robert Habeck stated that Germany should limit its use of natural gas to generate electricity. This was after Gazprom, a Russian oil major, announced it would cut supplies through Nord Stream 1 Pipeline, apparently for technical reasons.
Habeck stated that the situation requires that the government burn more coal to reduce climate warming carbon dioxide.
Habeck from the Green environmentalist party said, “It’s bitter but it’s just necessary in this circumstance to lower gas consumption.”
Businesses are also offered incentives by the government to reduce their gas consumption. They will be able to use the fuel left to stockpile for next winter, which is the government’s “top priority”.
Habeck stated, “It is obvious that (Russian President Vladimir Putin) Putin’s strategy to unsettle and drive up the price and divide us” “We won’t allow that to happen.”
Germany, along with many other European Union countries, and the United Kingdom had been increasingly using imported gas over the past few decades as an alternative to coal.
These countries have indicated that they will continue to burn coal to reduce cashflow to Moscow, and increase energy security in response to Russia’s war in Ukraine.
The United Kingdom has increased the lifespan of a coal-fired power plant to increase energy security despite lobbying from other countries last year to “consign coal into history”.
Ember climate think tank Dave Jones stated that “Countries are taking hard, urgent decisions when it comes to an emergency situation.”
Jones called Germany’s decision not to increase coal power a “emergency response”, but hoped it would be short-term.
He stated, “Going forward the governments must focus on how to decrease gas demand.”
Their response so far has been to double down on building solar and wind to generate electricity. But they will need to “fast action for all gas-using sectors” like heavy industry, he said.
Germany, which has been a long-term heavy user of Russian oil, started reducing its imports following the recent invasion of Ukraine. It retains its climate target to eliminate coal by 2030, and its policy to close down its three nuclear power plants by 2023.
Berlin plans to increase its renewable energy generation, which is already one of the most ambitious in the world, and to improve gas storage and energy efficiency.
Habeck stated that although supply security is not currently guaranteed, the situation was serious.
Germany claims that Russian gas will remain essential until other sources of energy like LNG, which can be brought in by ship, become available.
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