Germany Is Bracing for a Winter of Discontent

Germany Is Bracing for a Winter of Discontent
A car approaches a gas station in Frankfurt, Germany, June 1, 2022 (AP photo by Michael Probst).

Germans are cutting back on their consumption of energy as the extent of the devastating energy crunch in Europe, caused by Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, becomes clear. In Berlin, as energy supplies from Russia to Germany dwindle and prices rise, streetlights are being dimmed or extinguished entirely, shops are turning off their air conditioning systems and street signs, and spas are shutting down their energy-intensive steam rooms. Germans are now grappling with the prospect that this unprecedented energy crisis could last months, as well as with the implications that could have for food supply issues, drought and security concerns.

Frantic preparations are being made by European governments ahead of a possible winter of discontent across the continent, as fears grow that Russian President Vladimir Putin will shut off the gas taps in retaliation for the sanctions the European Union imposed on Moscow after its invasion of Ukraine. EU countries adopted an energy-rationing plan last month, and have begun implementing it. Spain, for instance, has even mandated limits on air conditioning and heating as the country scrambles to save energy for the winter.

Significantly, Germany might be poised to do a U-turn on its plans to phase out nuclear power. This week, The Wall Street Journal reported that the German government will announce a decision to keep open the country’s remaining three nuclear plants, which were originally scheduled to close by the end of this year. Berlin denied the report, saying that a decision has not yet been made.

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