Germany braces for an end to reliance on Russian gas – The Guardian

March 31, 2022 by No Comments

Germans are being urged to brace for a possible slow-down or halt of natural gas from Russia after the government triggered an emergency plan to manage its supplies.

Robert Habeck, the economics minister, has pleaded with private households and industry to use gas sparingly, telling them: “We are now in a situation where every kilowatt hour of energy that can be saved, is helpful.”

The first part of a three-point emergency plan that decides how and where supplies would be directed in case of the flow of gas and oil being under threat was activated on Wednesday. Hospitals and emergency services would be prioritised, followed by private households. Industries, which use a quarter of the gas delivered to Germany, would be the first expected to shut down.

Businesses are being urged to make individual cases for how much energy they would require if supplies have to be rationed, according to the plan, which was drawn up in 2017. The effect on industry would be a stark and have an immediate negative impact on the economy, including on supply chains and employment.

The head of the association of German towns and cities, Helmut Dedy, on Thursday urged the government to “get serious” about tackling the challenges. He suggested introducing a speed limit on autobahns, of 10km an hour, earning the backing of the environmentalist lobby group, BUND, which said it would also advocate the introduction of car-free Sundays and an end to short-haul flights.

Dedy said a halt in the flow of Russian gas or oil was now a realistic scenario and measures must be taken immediately not least to prepare people for the situation. “We don’t want any hysteria, but we do need a stronger awareness by people and in the economy that we may be heading for a crisis of considerable scale,” he told the news agency DPA.

A speed limit on German roads had been proposed for environmental reasons during the negotiations ahead of the formation of the current government, but had been rejected after opposition from the pro-business FDP.

Dedy said that Habeck’s triggering of the emergency plan was correct. “We need to be taking all possible measures at our disposal and on every level in order to prepare us for a supply stop from Russia, for both strategic and practical reasons,” he said.

Gas price soared again on Wednesday on news that Vladimir Putin was insisting that gas and oil supplies would have to be paid for in future in roubles. In a telephone conversation with the German chancellor, Olaf Scholz, Putin agreeing that payments could continue in euros or dollars.

However, Berlin is under no illusion that the situation might quickly change. The vulnerability of Europe’s largest economy has already been greatly exposed due to the fact that 55% of its gas imports – higher than other European countries – come from Russia.

The government has repeatedly come under pressure by Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelenskiy to stop buying Russian gas.

The Lithuanian president said it was time for Europe to stop all energy trade with Russia. “The income from it simply serves to finance the attack on Ukraine,” said Gitanas Nausėda at a …….

Source: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/mar/31/germany-braces-for-an-end-to-reliance-on-russian-gas

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