Two days I ago reported on German Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel’s calling the swift end to coal power plants in Germany an “illusion”.
Germany’s flagship daily Die Welt here has since posted a large part of Gabriel’s speech, where two Greenpeace activists attempted to steal the show from Gabriel on stage. When it was over, the Greenpeace activists ended up being schooled and looking awfully humiliated.
Moreover, Gabriel sent clear signals that the brakes Germany’s “ruinous” rush to green energies were on and that coal power wasn’t going anywhere, anytime soon.
DIE WELT writes:
They appeared with “naïve eco-populism” and the “illusions of the energy transformation propaganda“. Without the need for security, Gabriel rhetorically swept the Greenpeace protesters off stage.”
Driving away “complete value-adding chains”
Before a packed audience of power industry representatives, Gabriel told the Greenpeace activists:
With your energy policy, you are not only driving out the raw material industry, but also complete value adding chains out of the country. You can’t stop both nuclear and coal power at the same time – in any case not if you want to somehow survive economically.”
Gabriel, who is also head of Germany’s SPD socialist party and has strong ties to trade unions, also told the GP protesters:
Afterwards I’ll be at the Estrel-Hotel to meet with the Union Councils of Vattenfall, who are fighting to keep their jobs in brown coal. My suggestion is: See if you dare to show up over there.”
Germany’s energy policy has lost its marbles
Gabriel then calmly dismantled the activists, characterizing their demands as foreign-to-reality and green narrow-minded propaganda.
Gabriel reminded the activists that Germany is already spending 23 billion euros annually on renewable energies and that other countries think the country “has lost its marbles”: at the 7:50 mark Gabriel says that his colleagues in Poland think “we are mad as a hatter“.
Actually they are convinced that the Germans have lost their marbles. What they tell us in the international climate debate is that if you want to go ahead and ruin your industry, then be my guest. But please don’t force us to do the same through the European Union. That’s the perception internationally.”
Gabriel reminded the audience that German industry has to remain strong if it ever wishes to achieve an energy transition over the long term, and that no one will follow Germany’s example should its industry be led into ruins. Gabriel cites German companies moving to other countries where energy is much cheaper.
He also says that the transition to renewable energy in Germany so far has been unsystematic, disorganized, and sloppily planned. Poland, he says, expected something different from the Germans. Gabriel added that the Austrians are laughing because Germany is forced to buy up oil-generated electricty, and they don’t see how this is reducing CO2 emissions.
Phony CO2 reductions
At the 12:40 mark, Gabriel asks what would shutting down all German coal power plants lead to? It would not lead to one single tonne of CO2 being saved because the coal power generation would simply be shifted elsewhere, Merkel’s Vice Chancellor said. He calls Greenpeace’s vision of an immediate shut-down of the country’s coal power plants “phony reductions”. Gabriel called on everyone to “stop mystifying everything and to stop the illusions“.
CO2 reductions can be achieved, Gabriel stated, but have to be done in a way that does not threaten jobs and economic stability:
With the mystification of the green energy transition you have contributed to the underestimation of the challenges.”
At the end Gabriel again requested the activists to “stop simplifying everything … if we continue on this course, where we keeping pushing illusions and in the end wind up with high electricity rates, that is the only way of getting the energy transformation to fail.”