It is said that Vladimir Lenin once called Soviet sympathizers in Western countries "useful idiots" for unwittingly advancing the cause of revolutionary Russia. Were the Bolshevik leader alive today, he might apply the same label to German environmentalists, whose influence over their country’s energy policy has been an inadvertent, but essential factor in Moscow’s post-Cold War rise.I understand Greens are socialists--but haven't they recognized Putin isn't?
Two decades of stringent environmental regulations have made Germany, Europe’s largest economy, increasingly dependent on natural gas from Russia, the world’s largest exporter. Of course, economic leverage translates seamlessly into political power, and Russia’s sway over German foreign policy has been conspicuous as the recent imbroglio in Georgia has continued to play out.
In fact, Germany has the means to power its economy without Russian natural gas, so energy dependence is unnecessary. For starters, it is home to the largest reserves of coal in Europe. But thanks to the European Union’s marquee climate-change mitigation policy--the continent-wide Emission Trading Scheme--the economics of power production have shifted decidedly against coal because its combustion releases the most greenhouse gases of any conventional fuel source.
Given that coal is currently taboo, Germany could meet its energy needs by expanding the use of nuclear energy, which emits no carbon dioxide when used to generate electricity. Yet the environmental movement in Germany opposes nuclear energy because its waste is difficult and dangerous to store. In 2000, environmentalists won passage of the Nuclear Exit Law, which commits German utilities to phasing out nuclear power by 2020. [NOfP note: Chancellor Angela Merkel has proposed repealing the latter law.]
Rather than coal or nuclear, the environmental movement prefers sustainable sources of power such as wind and solar, and it has convinced the German government to grant generous subsidies to the renewable energy industry. But despite these investments, renewables are still too costly to displace conventional energy sources, which is why wind and solar power account for less than 2 percent of Germany’s primary energy production, according to government figures.
(via Planet Gore)