Report: Anti-Carbon Policies Create Fossil-Fuel Shortage in Europe

A customer pulls the nozzle of a petrol pump from their car at a petrol station in Egham, west of London on January 2, 2011. Motorists are having to pay record prices at the pumps after a Government fuel duty was added ahead of the VAT rise which will again …
ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP via Getty Images

ROME — Anti-carbon policies in Europe have created a fuel shortage and sent energy prices through the roof, the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) editorial board reported Wednesday.

In an effort to meet their commitments under the Paris climate accord, European governments have shut down coal plants while heavily subsidizing renewables like wind and solar.

As Reuters reported last week, however, Europe has experienced lower than average wind speeds this summer, significantly cutting power generation from wind farms and driving up demand for natural gas and other fossil fuels.

In the case of Germany, Europe’s biggest economy, energy from onshore wind is down 20.6 percent from last year and offshore wind has dropped 16.2 percent.

In the same period, conventional electricity production from nuclear, coal, and gas has picked up the slack, up 19.7 percent in the last six months.

LIVERPOOL, UNITED KINGDOM - MAY 12: Turbines of the new Burbo Bank off shore wind farm lay in the wake of a maintenance boat in the mouth of the River Mersey on May 12, 2008 in Liverpool, England. The Burbo Bank Offshore Wind Farm comprises 25 wind turbines and is situated on the Burbo Flats in Liverpool Bay at the entrance to the River Mersey, approximately 6.4km (4.0 miles) from the Sefton coastline and 7.2km (4.5 miles) from North Wirral. The wind farm is capable of generating up to 90MW (megawatts) of clean, environmentally sustainable electricity. This is enough power for approximately 80,000 homes. The site is run by Danish energy company Dong Energy. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

Turbines of the Burbo Bank offshore wind farm lay in the wake of a maintenance boat in the mouth of the River Mersey in Liverpool, England. (Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

The net effect of Europe’s self-inflicted fuel shortage has been soaring energy prices throughout the continent, with prices on electricity, natural gas, and coal all reaching record highs.

According to WSJ, European natural-gas spot prices have gone up five-fold in the past year while coal prices have tripled. Requests for carbon permits under the cap-and-trade scheme have also surged, driving electricity prices even higher.

Europe’s anti-carbon policies have had far-reaching effects even outside the continent’s borders. In the U.S., natural gas spot prices have also doubled during the past year in part because of increased exports to Europe. The first six months of 2021 saw a 40 percent increase in U.S. exports of natural gas as compared with the same period in 2020.

FILE - In this file photo dated Monday, Dec. 1, 2014, a wind turbine overlooks the coal-fired power station in Gelsenkirchen, Germany. A U.N.’s environment report Tuesday Oct. 31, 2017 says countries and industries need to do more to meet targets to trim emissions of greenhouse gases that experts say are contributing to global warming. In its latest “Emissions Gap” report issued ahead of an important climate conference in Germany next week, UNEP takes aim at coal-fired electricity plants being built in developing economies and says investment in renewable energies will pay for itself _ and even make money _ over the long term. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner, file)

In this file photo dated Monday, Dec. 1, 2014, a wind turbine overlooks the coal-fired power station in Gelsenkirchen, Germany. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner, file)

Europe’s energy debacle offers some vital lessons for the U.S., the WSJ editors suggest, beginning with a recognition of fossil fuels as a key “U.S. economic and strategic asset.”

Voluntarily curbing oil, gas, and coal production by regulation would only serve to empower U.S. adversaries, WSJ notes, “especially Russia, Iran and China.”

“Europe’s problems are a warning to the U.S., if only Democrats would heed it,” the editors assert.


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