Author blasts ‘green delusions’ of Western countries that empowered Putin’s energy advantage in Europe

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Author Michael Shellenberger is blasting the climate polices of European and other western nations, arguing they “empowered” Russian President Vladimir Putin to launch last week’s aggressive actions against Ukraine while maintaining a command over the continent’s energy market.

In a Tuesday Substack post headlined, “The West’s Green Delusions Empowered Putin,” Shellenberger argued Putin understood economics better than his western counterparts, citing the latter’s incapability of understanding the realities of energy production, and questioned how countries like Germany allowed themselves to become so dependent on an authoritarian country. 

“How has Vladimir Putin … managed to launch an unprovoked full-scale assault on Ukraine?” Shellenberger wrote. “There is a deep psychological, political and almost civilizational answer to that question: He wants Ukraine to be part of Russia more than the West wants it to be free.” 

A view of the central square following shelling of the City Hall building in Kharkiv, Ukraine, Tuesday, March 1, 2022. (AP Photo/Pavel Dorogoy)

A view of the central square following shelling of the City Hall building in Kharkiv, Ukraine, Tuesday, March 1, 2022. (AP Photo/Pavel Dorogoy)
((AP Photo/Pavel Dorogoy))

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“Missing from that explanation, though, is a story about material reality and basic economics—two things that Putin seems to understand far better than his counterparts in the free world and especially in Europe,” he added. 

Shellenberger pointed to the differences in energy production and consumption between other European countries and Russia, noting that Europe consumed more energy than it produced, while Russia produced more than it consumed. 

“The reason Europe didn’t have a muscular deterrent threat to prevent Russian aggression—and in fact prevented the U.S. from getting allies to do more—is that it needs Putin’s oil and gas,” he wrote. 

Shellenberger argued that the focus on “Green ideology” made European countries “incapable of understanding the hard realities of energy production,” and that their moves away from natural gas and nuclear energy gave Putin command over Europe’s energy supply. 

“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,” he wrote, referencing teen climate change activist Greta Thunberg and noting that Putin expanded nuclear energy and oil production in Russia while western countries obsessed over “carbon footprints.” 

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg
(Reuters)

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Shellenberger specifically used Germany shutting down its nuclear energy production as an example and cited figures showing 47% of the natural gas consumed by the European Union in 2021 being exported from Russia.

“The result has been the worst global energy crisis since 1973, driving prices for electricity and gasoline higher around the world. It is a crisis, fundamentally, of inadequate supply. But the scarcity is entirely manufactured,” he wrote. 

“Europeans—led by figures like Greta Thunberg and European Green Party leaders, and supported by Americans like John Kerry—believed that a healthy relationship with the Earth requires making energy scarce,” he added. “In service to green ideology, they made the perfect the enemy of the good—and of Ukraine.”

The controversial Nord Stream 2 pipeline from Russia to Germany was halted following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last week, something the Biden administration avoided pressing at the request of Germany despite shutting down construction of the planned Keystone XL pipeline from Canada to the U.S. immediately after taking office. 

Pipes for the Nord Stream 2 Baltic Sea gas pipeline are stored on the premises of the port of Mukran near Sassnitz, Germany, on Dec. 4, 2020. (Stefan Sauer/dpa via AP, File)

Pipes for the Nord Stream 2 Baltic Sea gas pipeline are stored on the premises of the port of Mukran near Sassnitz, Germany, on Dec. 4, 2020. (Stefan Sauer/dpa via AP, File)
(Stefan Sauer/dpa via AP, File)

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In order to counter Russia’s continued dominance over energy markets, Shellenberger implored Biden to have Germany halt any future shutdowns of nuclear reactors and to have the ones previously shut down turned back on, called on Canada and the U.S. to expand their energy production for increased export to Europe, and argued the U.S. needed to expand the construction of nuclear plants rather than shutting them down. 

“Putin’s relentless focus on energy reality has left him in a stronger position than he should ever have been allowed to find himself. It’s not too late for the rest of the West to save the world from tyrannical regimes that have been empowered by our own energy superstitions,” he wrote.

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