Russian tanks on the streets near Kyiv last April 22 (Iba photo)
This article by Federico Rambini was published in the monthly issue of Pianeta 2030 on newsstands with Corriere della Sera on April 27. We suggest it online together with other services (you can find them in “Read also”) taken from the same issue, for Corriere.it readers
Joe Biden decided: The Green New Deal can wait. Actually you should wait. It does not matter whether the environmental wing of his party denounces this choice as a betrayal of electoral promises. The energy shock that began even before the war in Ukraine, and then was exacerbated by sanctions against Russia, affects America like all other countries: Regardless of whether the United States underground is rich in energy, final prices are determined by global demand. The American driver experienced a 48 percent increase in gasoline, and the truck driver’s 70 percent increase on diesel.
Biden stops the Green New Deal. Germany expanded the use of coal. The Netherlands does not shut down its gas wells. Italy goes to search for oil in Libya and Egypt. The outbreak of conflict is causing everyone to postpone sustainable energy plans
Threat to household purchasing power, e Biden is pragmatic. It announced the sale of 180 million barrels of crude oil that was stored in strategic reserves. Relax rules limiting production of diesel fuel mixed with ethanol. He has decided to disqualify – and postpone – some new restrictions planned against oil and gas extraction, including federally owned land. Families have to go to work every day, kids have to go to school every day, and that requires them to have fuel today, tomorrow, this month, and this year, they explained to the White House. Compelling reasoning: The transition to renewables must continue and must indeed be accelerated (even if, as we shall see, it has enormous problems to overcome) yet there is no immediate emergency response.
Rigorous American logic: The transition to renewables must continue and must be accelerated but not an immediate response to the emergency. There is no “clean” energy in the world that does not need to exploit the resources from the ground
Oil and gas companies, which refused until yesterday, are on trial. They were likened to a man on death row on death row, who was suddenly released from his cell, and now the guardian begs him on his knees for help. For the environmental movement, and especially for its extreme fringes, the blow is harsh and provokes angry reactions: few are willing to accept the lesson of pragmatism. However, Biden is in good company. TheThe German government, with the Greens in the coalition, in order to relieve a bit of dependence on Russian gas, actually supported an extension in coal consumption. in some plants. The Netherlands is considering increasing the extraction of natural gas from its fields which was destined to close. Belgium expands nuclear power plant activity who wanted to deactivate it. Italy went looking for fossil fuels in Libya and Egypt. The Japan prioritizes security in hydrocarbon supplies, and is putting other sustainable transition goals on the sidelines for now. China did this even before the war in Ukraine. (Continue reading after the links)
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Too early to use solar and wind energy
Everyone is forced to deal with this reality: solar and wind energy, which are the cleanest sources, are not ready today or tomorrow to completely replace fossil energies. Nuclear power can help. Many countries (China in the lead) consider it to be “renewable” for all intents and purposes, and the European Commission has clarified it as good energy for the transitionIn the United States, a wing of the environmental movement criticized itself for fighting it. But in Germany, Japan and Italy, a return to nuclear power is not on the agenda at the moment. Although opinion polls reveal that Italian public opinion has turned in favor of nuclear power in recent months. The costs of a drastic and accelerated shift to renewables are weighing on it: A study by Allianz estimates that Europe should invest at least $170 billion, 1.3 percent more GDP than it is doing now.
Renewables less clean? Beijing dangers
Another, more serious problem that has so far been underestimated in the “zero emissions” transition scenarios. Renewable energy is much less “cleaner” than thought, and its effects on the environment must be taken into account. In addition to With the transition to these sources, there is a risk of moving from dependence on Russia to dependence on China. From one geopolitical disaster to another. The electric vehicle that is produced requires copper, lithium, nickel and cobalt. China processes 80 percent of this material that ends up in the battery and other components of an electric car, as well as photovoltaic panels and wind turbines.. Russia is also a major producer of nickel, cobalt, and copper, as well as aluminum and steel used in many “green” devices. Mines of these minerals or rare minerals are found all over the world, with a particular concentration in South America, but some of them are actually owned by China.. What China focuses on its territory is the processing of minerals and minerals, to the point of forming a global quasi-monopoly. Chinese dominance itself has been a reality for years in photovoltaic panels: After companies financed by Beijing’s public subsidies caused many Western competitors to fail with below-cost exports.
Between Beijing and Moscow
Biden understands this danger, which is that the green economy could be blackmailed by China as well as European carbon capitalism by Russia. The US president is trying to run for cover by dusting off emergency law that dates back to the dawn of the Cold War, to the 1950-53 conflict in Korea (which opposed the Americans against the Chinese). The Defense Production Act The CEO is given special powers to mobilize national industry and build strategic self-sufficiency for national security purposes. Biden hopes to return some of the raw materials needed for renewables and electric cars to US control. But it faces resistance from environmentalists. Some rare minerals found in the United States in their homes, but they are unable to extract them. symbolic case related to Lithium: One of the largest deposits on the planet is located near the Takher Pass in the Nevada Mountains. A mining company has the right to extract it, but the operation has been blocked since 2007 due to protests from environmentalists. There is no “clean” energy in the world that does not need to exploit resources from the ground.
Extreme drift part of environmental protection
Delegating this task to China is not a solution. But the lack of realism is a problem that has plagued the extremes of the environmental movement for years. Along with intolerance towards all forms of dissent. A well-known progressive like the director paid the price in the United States Michael Moore. When in a documentary he dared to highlight the polluting effects of the electric car, an angry media execution against him began. The fundamentalist drift of some sectors of the environment has its own rituals and clergy. A neo-pagan religion is willing to excommunicate any ecclesiastical “unscientific” who dares to distance himself from the beliefs of the faith. Some of the priests are teenagers, like Greta Thunberg. Others are scholars who are in love with the role of the teacher, with the new authority gained in this way, and are ready to manipulate science by attributing to him the prophecies of revelation.
The existence of a green litario world
This neo-pagan religion is also a wonderful dictator: he can imagine a world where everyone has to drive a Tesla (its cost is from 50,000 euros up); where the Atlantic crossings take place on the millionaire’s sailing boats; Where economic development is a disaster. Contempt for economic growth is a conceited attitude, a luxury that can only be granted by those who have already achieved sufficient growth.. The big difference that separates the Southern Planet today from us, in the face of climate change, is precisely the wealth gap. New York City where I live can invest to protect itself from rising waters; Rich Holland has been doing this for decades with insight and efficacy. On the other hand, Bangladesh does not have the economic resources to do this today. Tomorrow why not? Those who preach Bengal weakness from growth do abuse their legitimate aspirations for a better future; Equally selfish are those who suggest that Bengal could skip the fossil energy stage to go directly to renewables.
The A double inflationary shock affects energy and food, have greater impacts on poor countries. Also in this caseThe just mission of reducing carbon emissions must be modified by an immediate imperative: no hunger. Agriculture needs fertilizer, which is now more scarce and more expensive because it comes from gas; Giving up is not an option. The elegant radical environment has already wreaked havoc when imposing its prescriptions on poor countries: the latest case thereo Sri Lanka, which followed the crazy advice about switching all its crops to organic farming, witnessed the collapse of agricultural production, severe food shortages and hyperinflation, followed by the inevitable popular uprisings. The war in Ukraine also forces wealthy Europe to wonder what can be done, not just what is desirable; But the harsh lessons of this tragedy must not be learned. Religious fundamentalism clings to its own beliefs and influence with reality rarely shakes its certainties.
** Federico Rambini, columnist at Corriere della Sera, author of the article, who just published the Western Suicide Film. Why it is wrong to treat our history and erase our values (Mondadori)
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