Germany Halts Natural Gas Pipeline to Russia in Response to Invasion
On Tuesday, not long after Russian president Vladimir Putin ordered troops into Eastern Ukraine, Germany halted the certification of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline that travels under the Baltic Sea directly from Russia to Germany. The controversial pipeline was built to transport up to 110 billion cubic meters of gas to Germany and Europe per year, accounting for over 25% of Europe's annual gas consumption. The pipeline has been fiercely opposed by the US, UK, Ukraine, and several other European countries because of the amount of power and influence it would give Russia in Europe, and because Europe's Green Parties have highlighted its long-term impact on the climate crisis.
CNBC: Germany halts Nord Stream 2 pipeline after Russian troops enter eastern Ukraine, February 22, 2022.
Why This Matters
The Nord Stream 2 pipeline activity was expected to produce 100 million tons of CO2 emissions annually, as well as methane leaks, which would all contribute heavily to the climate crisis. The pipeline would also increase reliance on Russian fossil fuels in Europe, especially Germany since it has scaled back its nuclear power. While the US has helped Europe find alternative fossil fuel suppliers in Asia and the Middle East in the wake of Russian sanctions, it won’t be a long-term fix. Europe will need to decide between dependence on Russia for natural gas or accelerating the switch to renewable energy options that can sustain their needs.
WSJ: How Russia's Nord Stream 2 Pipeline Plays a Role in the Ukraine Crisis, February 18, 2022.
Renewable Energy Is Energy Security
Currently, Europe is facing a natural gas crisis with record prices and low supply, putting energy security at risk for 447 million people in the middle of winter. And, Europe remains vulnerable to energy shortages without Russian fossil fuels and the Nord Stream 2 pipeline. A smart solution to Europe's energy crises and to avoid geopolitical tensions with Russia would be to rapidly scale up renewable energy in Europe, starting with subsidies.
Putin has made the claim that Europe's gradual transition to renewable energy is the cause of its energy shortages. But Samantha Gross, director of the energy security and climate initiative at the Brookings Institution, has rejected this claim saying, "More renewables actually insulates economies from problems like these. It doesn’t cause them."
Beyond providing climate protection and lowering greenhouse gas emissions in accordance with the Paris Agreement, investing in solar, wind, hydropower, and other clean energy sources would increase Europe's energy security and lessen Russia's influence on Europe.
CNBC: Nord Stream 2 - Putin's pipeline with a problem, March 10, 2021.