Ukraine conflict: Ukraine war is about to complete one year. The effect of the massive devastation in Ukraine is being seen in other European countries as well. Inflation is at its peak. Oil prices are skyrocketing. European countries are now turning to other measures to deal with the energy crisis. However, due to these, protests have also been seen in Germany. Lützerath, a small village in western Germany, is on the verge of destruction due to a coal mine.
Several activists, including Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg, protested here on Sunday (January 15) after which they were dispersed by the police. More than 1,100 police personnel were engaged in removing these climate activists. The demonstrations began on 11 January. Thousands of protesters protested in the surrounding areas of Lützerath. They were protesting against the government’s decision to expand the Garzweiler coal mine.
European countries engaged in increasing the use of coal
According to the Associated Press, environmentalists believe that the expansion of the coal mine will result in huge amounts of greenhouse gas emissions. At the same time, the German government has said that it needs coal to ensure the country’s energy security. The government says that “due to the war in Ukraine, Russian gas supplies have been cut. This has left the country’s energy needs in dire straits. Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, not only Germany, but many other countries , especially European countries, are facing an energy crisis. This has increased the demand for coal. Coal is considered one of the cheapest but also the dirtiest fuel.
The International Energy Agency (IEA) in its annual coal report published in December last year said that “Global coal use will increase by 1.2% in 2022. Coal use in a single year has crossed 8 billion tonnes for the first time, breaking the previous record set in 2013.”
Putin spoiled the game of European countries
It has been said in the report that Russia has made a huge cut in its natural gas supply, which has affected the whole of Europe. In fact, European countries under the leadership of America have imposed strict economic sanctions on Russia for the Ukraine war. In response to these sanctions, Putin drastically cut the supply of gas to European countries. Now its effect is that countries like Germany are going to increase their coal consumption for the second consecutive year.
These reports of increased coal consumption come at a time when several European countries have announced plans to reopen their shuttered coal plants. These countries have announced delays in plans to increase coal production or close coal plants. The surprising thing is that these countries had taken an oath to reduce their coal production at the Glasgow United Nations Climate Conference 2021. But due to Putin’s war, the game of European countries got spoiled.
Britain scared of energy crisis, returned to the path of coal
Last week, the United Kingdom announced that part of its Nottinghamshire ‘coal-burning power plant’ would remain open for another two years. This is the same plant which the British government was going to close by 2022. But fearing an ‘energy crisis’, ministers have decided to go ahead with it. Not only this, in December last year, the UK announced the opening of its first new coal mine in the country in 30 years in Cumbria. However, the government said that the coal would be used for steel production and not for electricity. Meanwhile, Italy has also decided to delay its plan to decommission six coal plants until 2025. The country plans to “increase production from existing coal-fired and oil-fired power plants”.
In addition, some countries have restarted their recently closed coal-fired power plants. One of them is France, which plans to restart its coal plant located in Saint-Evold in November 2022. According to a report in AP, the plant’s coal production was earlier slated to stop in early 2022.
Poland surprised everyone, Germany also adopted
The most surprising decision was that of Poland. Ukraine’s neighbor Poland announced it would stop buying natural gas and coal from Russia. But at the same time, in September last year, to ease the supply crisis, it took a decision that surprised everyone. It lifted the ban on the use of “lignite” for heating homes by April 2023. “Lignite” is the most polluting type of coal. Poland is one of the largest coal producers in the European Union. Forbes told in its report that Germany has also taken a similar step. In September 2022, the German government announced not only the continuation of its three nuclear power plants, but also the reopening of five lignite-burning power plants.