The right strategy wins the war Gifts, gadgets, weather stations, software and here!\
The Blogosphere
Monday, April 21, 2008
CO2 Constraints Have Major Global Security Impacts

By William Yeatman, Times Dispatch Columnist

Seventeen years ago, post-Soviet Russia was a geopolitical doormat, too poor and weak to exert much influence beyond its borders. This month, at an international summit in Romania, Russia intimidated Western Europe into scuttling a proposal for NATO expansion. Historically, only war has caused rapid, profound shifts in the European balance of power. Russia’s rise, however, has a less malignant, if more bizarre, origin: German environmentalism.

Two decades of the world’s most stringent environmental regulations have made Germany, Europe’s largest economy, increasingly energy dependent on Russia, the world’s largest exporter of natural gas. That’s how Russian President Vladimir Putin persuaded a coalition of West European nations to oppose a proposal that would have expanded NATO, despite the fact that Russia isn’t even a member of the trans-Atlantic military alliance. In the aftermath of the Soviet Union’s collapse, Germany’s electricity sector enjoyed energy independence, thanks to extensive coal reserves and a large nuclear industry.

In the time since, coal and nuclear power have fallen afoul of the environmental movement, their regulatory burden has increased, and they have gone into decline. Coal has been targeted because its combustion releases the most greenhouse gas of any fossil fuel and Germany is a global leader in the rush to “do something” about climate change. In 1995, it passed sweeping emissions reductions into law, and the German legislature adopted the Kyoto Protocol in 2002. In this regulatory environment, investment in new coal-fired power plants is unthinkable. Nuclear power emits zero greenhouse gas, but most environmentalists oppose it because the waste it produces is difficult to store. In 2000, they prevailed upon the German government to issue a moratorium on new nuclear power plants. By 2022, nuclear will have been phased out.

Coal and nuclear power may have become unfashionable, but Germans still needed electricity. Like every nation, Germany aspires to economic growth, which requires ever more energy. In fact, Germany could have supplied much of its own natural gas needs with domestic reserves from the northwestern state of Niedersachsen, home to 9 trillion cubic feet of gas. However, this energy is off-limits because environmental regulations have curtailed the complete exploration and development of the area. Instead, Germany has met its growing demand with natural gas imports from Gazprom, a state-owned enterprise that has a legal monopoly on all natural gas exports from Russia. Imports have skyrocketed since the Cold War, and Russia now supplies more than 40 percent of German gas consumption. Read more here.
William Yeatman is an energy policy analyst at the Competitive Enterprise Institute.

On the topic of Russian Energy see the book By Michael Economides and Donna D’Aleo (my daughter) “From Soviet to Putin and Back, The Dominance of Energy in Today’s Russia” here.

Posted on 04/21 at 04:15 AM
(1) TrackbacksPermalink

Page 1 of 1 pages