Russia, it turns out, has reportedly been promoting, often through "dark money" via Bermuda – which does not require donor countries to be named -- "green" campaigns against nuclear power to ensure dependence by the West on imports of Russia's fossil fuels. An investigation by Unherd revealed that China is also funding Western environmentalists. Pictured: Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks at the Energy Club Summit during an International Economic Forum meeting in St. Petersburg on June 21, 2013. (Photo by Mikhail Klimentyev/RIA-Novosti/AFP via Getty Images)
"With winter fast approaching, Europe finds itself in an energy crisis—and reliant on the tender mercies of Russian strongman Vladimir Putin. It's a self-induced disaster years in the making".
That was how an October 20, 2021 editorial in the Wall Street Journal began, before Russia amassed its troops on the Ukrainian border and no analyst or think tank imagined that the unthinkable was around the corner. The editorial continued:
"European leaders have handicapped themselves on energy in the name of pursuing a climate agenda that will have no effect on the climate but is raising energy prices, harming consumers and industry, and is now empowering the bullies in the Kremlin.
"The U.K. and EU have pledged net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, closing coal plants and pouring billions into solar and wind projects. Germany and several other European countries have largely banned fracking. This has transformed European leaders into the equivalent of 16th-century naval explorers, praying for favorable winds and weather as energy prices rise and fall depending on cloud cover and wind conditions.
"Germany also hurt itself when Chancellor Angela Merkel chose to eliminate nuclear power in an overreaction to the 2011 Fukushima accident."
Konstantin Kosachev, an influential Russian legislator, had previously told Bloomberg that "we cannot ride to the rescue just to compensate for mistakes that we didn't commit". Such raw honesty stood in painful contrast to Europe's naïveté.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen recently met with activists from the Greta Thunberg-inspired "Fridays for Future" movement, despite these environmentalists' responsibility in Europe's energetic masochism, as the Wall Street Journal called it in another editorial.
"As the West fell into a hypnotic trance about healing its relationship with nature, averting climate apocalypse and worshiping a teenager named Greta, Vladimir Putin made his moves."
One of the reasons for Germany's catastrophic energy choices -- Russian gas and Chinese solar panels instead of domestic nuclear energy and fossil fuel production -- was exposed by Fabien Bouglé in his book Nucléaire, les vérités cachées ("Nuclear Energy, The Hidden Truths"). In a recent interview with Le Figaro, he said:
"My research revealed clearly that Germany has waged an economic war against French nuclear energy. In connection, for years, with anti-nuclear and pro-wind environmental NGOs, our neighbor has been struggling to denigrate our nuclear industry on our soil but also in Brussels. An army of German lobbyists are working with the European Commission to prevent French nuclear energy from entering the list of activities considered 'green' because of its low-carbon nature."
In the autumn of 2021, COP26, the UN climate conference, was setting up its grotesque spectacle: a kind of ecological Versailles. The rich, powerful and virtuous of the planet gathered in Glasgow to pontificate to the citizenry of Western countries about how much we are harming the planet with our way of life. They arrived in their private jets to complain about the plague of air industry emissions. The British government's Chief Scientific Adviser, Patrick Vallance, said that everyone should eat less meat and fly less. Then came the news that 400 private jets would be flying to the UN climate conference, bringing international leaders and corporate executives.
The United Kingdom's Prince Charles, from one of his palaces, said COP26 was the planet's "last chance." The British royal family has flown so much over the past five years that they could have reached the moon and back.
While the Germans pontificated about the climate, the Washington Post informed us of their hypocrisy:
"Germany portrays itself as a climate leader. But it's still razing villages for coal mines... The yawning black-brown scar in the earth that is Germany's Garzweiler coal mine has already swallowed more than a dozen villages. Centuries-old churches and family homes have been razed and the land they were built on torn away. Farmland has disappeared, graveyards have been emptied."
The Lützerath mine alone is twice the size of Manhattan. That is why Germany has been labelled as the most polluting country in Europe. Six years ago, at the time of COP21, former Polish Prime Minister Jerzy Buzek warned us, "let's not be hypocrites: Germans are building up additional coal plants to support their renewable energy sector."
In November 2021, Thomas Friedman wrote in the New York Times:
In a recent essay on great-power competition and climate change, Rob Litwak, an arms control expert at the Wilson Center, recalled a question that President Ronald Reagan posed to Mikhail Gorbachev, the Soviet leader, after they took a walk during their 1985 Lake Geneva summit.
As Gorbachev put it later: "President Reagan suddenly said to me, 'What would you do if the United States were suddenly attacked by someone from outer space? Would you help us?'"...
Litwak's point in retelling that story, of course, is that today we are facing a similar, world-stressing threat — not from space aliens but from a much more familiar and once seemingly benign force: our climate.
Thus, the progressive American pundits until October dreamed of an alliance between the West, Russia and China against global warming. Now that the West has isolated Russia, the largest supplier of energy for Europe, no one is talking about that anymore.
The Glasgow meeting in January has been forgotten. Coal imports to the European Union have already increased by more than 56% compared to 2021, to face an energy crisis. In Britain, the Coal Authority has authorized a mine in Wales to increase production by 40 million tonnes over the next two decades.
Germany, which depends on Russian gas and which has the Greens Party in government with the Social Democrats, was so desperate that it had to stop the shutdown of its nuclear power plants. The closing of the reactors had been decided by then Chancellor Angela Merkel after the Fukushima accident. Now Hans-Werner Sinn, a leading German economist, writes:
"In both the short and the long term, Germany will be unable to end Russian gas imports without triggering economic chaos... Germany's pledge to abandon coal and nuclear, the very energy sources that would have given it a degree of self-sufficiency and autonomy, has thus placed the country in great danger."
Russia, it turns out, has reportedly been promoting, often through "dark money" via Bermuda – which does not require donor countries to be named -- "green" campaigns against nuclear power to ensure dependence by the West on imports of Russia's fossil fuels. According to an article in The Hill:
"In 2014 – the same year Russia annexed Crimea – then-North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen warned that Russia was covertly working to undermine European and U.S. fossil fuel production...
"According to The Guardian, Rasmussen... claimed in a presentation to a think tank in London, 'I have met allies who can report that Russia, as part of their sophisticated information and disinformation operations, engaged actively with so-called non-governmental organizations (NGOs) – environmental organizations working against shale gas – to maintain European dependence on imported Russian gas.'"
Dominique Reynié, professor of political science at the Institut d'Etudes Politiques in Paris, in an interview with CNews, recently noted:
"We have found Gazprom funding in particular environmental NGOs, which furnished certain European countries with ministers -- Belgium for example -- who then evidently embarked on a sort of return of favor by defending an exit from nuclear power."
Germany's Foundation for Climate and Environmental Protection, which has reportedly received more than 17 million euros from Gazprom, has also been accused of being a Moscow-funded "puppet", the Sunday Times disclosed.
The foundation was established this year in Mecklenburg-Pomerania by Manuela Schwesig, the Social Democratic state premier and an ally of former German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder, who is Chairman of the companies that own the Nord Stream and Nord Stream II pipelines, built to transport natural gas from Russia to Germany. Schröder has also been serving on the boards of Russian state-backed energy companies.
In addition, an investigation by Unherd revealed that China is also funding Western environmentalists:
"A few blocks away from Tiananmen Square, amid the cavernous splendour of the Beijing Hotel Convention Centre, an array of senior Communist Party officials gathered in September to proclaim a clear message: by 'focusing on cutting carbon emissions... China will promote green development, and continuously improve its ecology'. The annual general meeting of the China Council for International Co-operation on Environment and Development (the CCICED) was in full swing...
"Indeed, as the room fizzled with optimistic eco-rhetoric, you could almost forget that China is the world's biggest source of greenhouse gases — and that the new coal-fired power stations in its construction pipeline alone have a greater capacity than Britain's entire generation fleet....
"According to the official conference report, the 'foreign committee members and partners lauded China's ecological civilisation building and its new and greater contributions to promoting the construction of a clean and beautiful world'".
In attendance were Professor Lord Nicholas Stern, president of the Grantham Center on Climate Change at the London School of Economics, former chief economist of the World Bank, adviser to British governments on environmentalism; Kate Hampton, chief executive of the Children's Investment Fund Foundation (CIFF), which is reportedly funded by billionaire Christopher Hohn, a leading environmental philanthropist, and the World Wide Fund for Nature-UK, for which Prince Charles serves as president.
As Europe was facing its own energy suicide and just before Putin began obliterating Ukraine, what was US Secretary of State John Kerry, the U.S. "climate czar", concerned about? About the "massive emissions impact" of the war as well as its being a distraction from the fight against climate change. "I hope President Putin will help us to stay on track with respect to what we need to do for the climate," he told the BBC.
The journalist Michael Shellenberger noted:
"Russia has leveraged an economy half the size of Germany's to end the post-Cold War era and defeat NATO
"It did so with aggression, natural gas, & nuclear
"America must produce massively more nuclear, natural gas, and oil, or liberal democratic Western civilization is dead"
According to Ulf Poschardt in Die Welt:
"Vladimir Putin can only do what he wants because he has seen through the West's weaknesses: Europe and the Germans in particular have become decadent, they patronize their top performers and submit to a naively deluded zeitgeist... Putin looks at Germany and sees it as a federal republic of clowns. And he's not afraid of clowns".
Now Europe is trying to reduce its dependence on Russian gas. But what comes next?
Giulio Meotti, Cultural Editor for Il Foglio, is an Italian journalist and author.