Irrational Guilt Behind Germany’s Return To Coal
My message to defenders of Germany's legendary — and endangered — heavy industries
Concerned German citizens are meeting in Hamburg to draw attention to the threat posed by the energy crisis to their manufacturing and chemical industries. Their rallying cry is “Save Our Industry!” They asked me to record a short video about our work saving nuclear plants. The event comes days after thousands of Germans protested the expansion of mining for coal, an economic necessity given the high cost of natural gas and the continuing war by German Greens on nuclear energy. — Michael and Leighton
It's hard to remember now, but Germany was until recently considered a global leader on climate change. But with huge machines grinding up its landscape for coal, devouring entire villages and forests, Germany’s much-revered image for ecological sensitivity has been sullied.
Meanwhile, there are real questions about how long German industry can weather high energy prices. There have been many optimistic statements about Europe in the last few weeks because it’s had an unusually warm January and thus hasn’t needed as much natural gas to survive the winter as people had thought.
But the underlying problem remains: Germany remains dependent on coal because it has shut down all but three nuclear reactors, and natural gas remains expensive. Higher energy prices reduced German 2022 energy consumption by nearly 5%, but greater use of coal and oil wiped out any potential emissions reductions.
What about renewables? Why didn’t they make up for the lost Russian gas?