Continent’s natural-gas crisis is morphing into a genuine power emergency. Canada could help, but won’t
By Henry Geraedts, National Post, Sept. 8, 2022
As the collapse of Europe’s energy structure begins to unfold it’s important to understand that its impact across the socio-economic landscape isn’t yet anywhere near full force. The bankruptcy of utilities and energy providers continues. France recently re-nationalized core utility EDF, operator of its nuclear plants, while Germany opted for a €9 billion bailout to save linchpin utility Uniper.
The true and overarching danger to Europe, however, is the accelerating threat to its industrial base and small businesses. Europe’s natural gas crisis is morphing into a genuine power emergency — a vicious circle in which the skyrocketing cost of natural gas steadily drives up industrial power costs, which in turn spurs a renewed surge in overall energy prices. The large-scale return to coal notwithstanding, this dynamic is amplified by the unexpected and debilitating shortfall of base load generation from French nuclear and Norwegian hydro power. Listening in on European electricity traders is scary, indeed.
The net result of all this is surging power prices and the prospect of small businesses from restaurants to retailers facing bankruptcy: already there are reports 75 per cent of the U.K.’S pubs are considering closing. Key industrial sectors are in danger, including petrochemicals, steel, aluminum, glass and automotive, which together with their vast networks of supply-chain sub-systems represent tens of millions of jobs. Half of Europe’s aluminum and zinc smelters have already shut down while some 60 per cent of U.K. manufacturers face going out of business.
Under normal circumstances, Europe’s crisis would serve as a sharp warning of the growing socio-economic threat to Canadians from the Liberals’ destructive climate and energy policies. In no other advanced economy has an ideologically blinded government so systematically undermined an indispensable hydrocarbon energy sector — most recently by adding agriculture as a new target of its obsessive climate crusade.
For the prime minister of the world’s fourth largest gas exporter to say there is no business case for Canada’s LNG, as Justin Trudeau recently did with an exasperated German Chancellor Scholz looking on, was both preposterous and unconscionable — the incantations of someone perilously out of touch with reality.
The Trudeau government ignores the European debacle and above all its underlying net-zero causes at the risk of rending Canada’s social and economic fabric. It was last winter’s groundswell of anti-government protests across Canada that showed Dutch farmers and other protesters throughout Europe how to escalate. Imagining the fury could not blow back across the ocean is dangerous wishful thinking.
This is a condensed version of the original article.