Can Germany wean itself off Russian oil and gas?

(China Dialogue, 6 Apr 2022) Germany is not doing all it can to cut back energy use and increase economic pressure on Russia, argues Arne Jungjohann

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has upended Germany’s energy, economic and security policies. Now in place for three months, the new coalition has overhauled a decades-long political stance toward Russia which was centred on Wandel durch Handel (change through trade). That stance claimed good business relations and economic development would slowly improve democracy and the human rights situation in Russia. The government has also reversed a policy of military minimalism that dates back to the end of World War II, as new Chancellor Olaf Scholz announced the goal of building “a powerful… armed forces that can be relied upon to protect us.” At the same time, Germany is having to find ways to reduce its reliance on Russian fossil fuels, and readjust its long-planned energy transition.

Do the war and its consequences threaten the coalition’s ambitious plans for Germany to become climate-neutral by 2045? Or could it perhaps boost the transition to a renewables-based economy?

Dependence on Russian fossil fuels

Germany is a large net importer of fuel. In 2020, around 70% of its energy consumption was covered by imports of fossil fuels, including uranium. At 28% of final energy consumption, oil remains the country’s dominant fossil energy source, followed by natural gas (27%) and hard coal (4%). For all three, Russia is the main supplier: 34% of the oil used in Germany is imported from Russia, as is 57% of its hard coal and 55% of its natural gas.

External link

China Dialogue, 6 Apr 2022: Can Germany wean itself off Russian oil and gas?