If you’re looking for two people who won’t be cold or hungry this winter, not least because their lavish travel energy costs are paid for by other people, it will be the photo op twins German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Canadian PM Justin Trudeau. Thus “The two countries will enter into an agreement to promote the expansion of Canadian hydrogen exports. Mr. Scholz and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will sign the accord in Stephenville, N.L., where there are plans to build a plant that will use wind energy to produce the fuel.” Just as we at CDN have plans to become taller, better-looking and younger. Just a few details still to be nailed down.
Scholz is coming to Canada to discuss his nation’s self-inflicted energy crisis, fast becoming a humanitarian as well as geopolitical disaster. But neither he nor his pious hosts will be discussing that revolting taboo natural gas. Instead, with a winter of hunger and elevated cold-driven illness and death just months away, and his political career hanging in the balance, the Globe & Mail reports that “Mr. Scholz and his entourage are expected to focus on longer-term energy goals.” Because if you have failed utterly to address pressing issues, all that remains is to wax philosophic about the long term. And so “they will attempt to bolster Canadian efforts to develop renewable energy markets, with a special focus on hydrogen fuel.”
The vision of Canada sending a stream of lovely green hydrogen across the Atlantic by December comes from the sort of pipe that carries dreams not energy. To be sure, our capacity to increase natural gas shipments in the short run is minimal. But at least we have vast reserves of the stuff and produce it commercially in large amounts, extracting and shipping it with proven mature technology (still being continually refined, of course). Whereas hydrogen has been the fuel of the future since 1836 and always will be.
Even the normally Liberal- and green-friendly Toronto Star couldn’t swallow this one. Their economics columnist Heather Scoffield scoffed at the wind-powered hydrogen plant saying that “It will look like an elegant solution to three intractable problems: energy security in the face of Russian aggression, climate change and Canadian competitiveness. But while it’s not quite the 21st-century version of a Potemkin village, the timelines of all those ambitions don’t add up.”
We should add here that another lively form of paranoia in climate debates, as in public policy generally, is that there’s this giant capitalist conspiracy to ruin everything just because. However most large companies are all-in on the green agenda, partly from conviction and partly because they are so dependent on government goodwill, aka subsidies and regulatory and legislative favours, that they wouldn’t dare not smile even if their faces hurt. Thus “Mr. Scholz will be joined by executives from Germany’s energy, environment, chemical, automotive, shipping and mining sectors. Volkswagen’s chief executive, Herbert Diess, will be among the delegation. And so will Siemens Energy CEO Christian Bruch.” Alarmists will continue to thunder against corporate greed and vast subsidies to skeptics, of course. But just because their PR strategy isn’t very clever doesn’t mean it isn’t sincere.
On the larger subject of things that are sincerely stupid, Germany’s energy situation is the result of appalling folly. Not because the people in charge have low IQs, but because powerful minds can twist themselves into configurations others wouldn’t dare attempt. Remember George Orwell’s line that “One has to belong to the intelligentsia to believe things like that: no ordinary man could be such a fool.”
Thus another Globe item, by columnist Konrad Yakabuski, notes that:
“A centre-left Social Democrat whose coalition government relies on support from the progressive Green Party and the pro-business Free Democrats, he [Scholz] is scrambling to ensure his country can (literally) keep the lights on and factories running this winter and beyond, as it seeks to sever its dependence on Russian natural gas. That dependence is the legacy of a series of policy mistakes perpetrated by Mr. Scholz’s immediate predecessors, the centre-right Angela Merkel and centre-left Gerhard Schröder, prodded by Green politicians. The Greens pushed to close Germany’s nuclear and coal-fired power plants. But with renewables unable to fill the gap, the country turned to Russian gas to produce electricity, heat homes and run factories. A ban on hydraulic fracturing – that was pushed by the Greens, too – prevented Germany from tapping its own shale gas reserves. Opposition to fracking also led Germany to reject importing liquified natural gas from North America. The strategy looked feasible, for a while. Cheap Russian gas fuelled Germany’s manufacturing sector, the engine of the domestic economy.”
But only if you don’t mind burning fossil fuels as long as you’re also burning money acquiring them from abroad.
Still, the Germans might not be quite as dumm as they look. For one thing they don’t spell that word with the English prank silent “b”. For another, the Globe & Mail story concedes, “The German Federal Ministry of Economics confirmed that LNG would not be under discussion at next week’s visit. But spokesperson Susanne Ungrad noted that the German government is still interested in Canadian LNG. ‘Whether there could be deliveries would have to be decided by the companies that trade,’ she said.” There just won’t be any grinning politicians in the frame when that revolting life-saving substance flows. Why? Because they hate this reality and are trying to wish it away:
“Although Germany is interested in Canadian LNG, its leadership in Berlin has little confidence that Canadian companies are capable of delivering in the country’s time of need. And Germany’s desire for natural gas could decrease over time, because the country is committed to phasing out fossil fuels by 2035.”
Well if they’re really that determined, why wait? Seize the day. Alas Scholz might be as dumb as he seems because in addition to his lingering difficulties over a massive tax fraud from his days as mayor of Hamburg, he just got in trouble after foxes raided his household trash and out spilled confidential government documents about Boris Johnson’s green activist wife and what Scholz’s own wife, a career politician, should wear to events (not fox fur, presumably). You can’t make that kind of thing up.
P.S. If hydrogen ever does become feasible, look for a discovery that it’s secretly a massive greenhouse gas and labels of “hydrogen pollution.” We are not kidding. The most important greenhouse gas is water vapour and guess what you get if you burn hydrogen. The dreaded H2O.