As a result of the conflict in Ukraine, Europeans are preparing for a challenging winter by turning down their thermostats and wearing wool socks.
Since the end of July, when Russia ceased sending gas to the Baltic former Soviet state, Latvians have been adjusting.
They are aware of what to anticipate in the near future.
Juons Ratiniks, a resident of Rezekne, a city close to the Russian border, said, “Energy prices are so high that we already shut off the hot water from the city pipeline and erected our own hot water boiler.”
The retired border guard said, “It is cheaper to use it when we actually need it than pay for constantly heated hot water,” supplied centrally.
According to Ratiniks, politicians need to comprehend that when people’s energy bills began to soar, people anticipated assistance.
He said, “They better support heating for us — or else we’ll deliver heat to them! “, with elections scheduled for October.
While other nations’ gas supplies have been substantially curtailed, Bulgaria, Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands, and Poland have already experienced a reduction in their gas supply.
At the end of this month, the Nord Stream pipeline will experience its second stoppage of Russian gas deliveries to Germany. This stoppage will last for a number of days. Berlin claims Moscow is cutting off supplies because of Western sanctions imposed because of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, even though the cuts are allegedly for maintenance.
According to numerous analysts interviewed by AFP, overall supply was down in July by over 70% from the same month last year.
“Worldwide energy problem”
The idea of factories being compelled to close their doors and frigid radiators is not appealing to the governments of Europe.
Many think that Russian President Vladimir Putin is applying pressure to countries who have imposed sanctions against Moscow for its invasion of Ukraine by using energy supply as a geopolitical weapon.
Given that many power plants depend on gas, the supply shortage has driven up the cost of both gas and electricity.
Even though its value has recently declined somewhat, the rise in oil prices has made things more difficult.
According to Fatih Birol, executive director of the International Energy Agency, “the world is going through the first really global energy crisis in history.”
“The situation is particularly dangerous in Europe, which is at the center of the instability on the energy market.”
Natural gas was exempted from European sanctions against Russia because it is so vital to so many nations, especially Germany, which depends on it for its heavy industries.
While oil is subject to a gradual embargo, coal is subject to a comprehensive embargo.
The Nord Stream 1 pipeline’s capacity to transport gas from Russia to Germany has already been significantly reduced.
According to Matt Oxenford of the Economist Intelligence Unit, “we currently expect that Russian gas deliveries to Europe via Nord Stream 1 will fluctuate between zero and 20 percent capacity in the next months.”
And that, he continued, will cause Europe to experience a recession in the winter of 2022–2023.
Given its current infrastructure, Germany cannot make up for an 80 percent decline in Russian gas without seeing a significant drop in demand, which would trigger a wintertime recession.
And since Germany is a hub for industrial supply networks, this would have repercussions throughout all of Europe, according to Oxenford.
The French and German governments are already considering who will have to bear the brunt of the cuts before households.
However, the general public is also informed that they must conform to the new reality.
The 27 nations that make up the European Union have been informed that they must reduce their gas use by 15%.
Italy started “Operation Thermostat” earlier this year in an effort to reduce heating and air conditioning in public facilities like schools. Germany and Spain have done the same.
The summer campaign in Germany emphasized turning down the air conditioning in public transportation and purchasing more water-saving shower heads. Many cities have cut back on their metropolitan illumination and lowered the temperature in their swimming pools.
LNG and coal
Gas rates for individuals have been maintained in France, but household bills will increase by several hundred euros annually in Germany.
The North Rhine-Westphalia consumer advisory center reports that it has never been busier in its 40-year history due to what looks to be a challenging winter.
According to spokeswoman Udo Sieverding, many customers express concern that their services will be cut off because they are unable to pay their debts.
He continued that some were considering using solar panels to replace their oil or gas supplies, while others were switching to coal.
He suggested that tenants talk to their landlords and start saving money early.
However, a lot of homes won’t be able to afford the rising cost of energy.
Meanwhile, a 1970s-era anti-waste campaign is being revived in France.
For instance, businesses that utilize air conditioning are required to keep their doors closed or pay a fee.
Even though coal is incredibly polluting, there has been a rush to use it.
Despite protests from environmental activists, the French government has changed its mind about closing a coal-fired station.