In view of the war of extermination being waged by the Russian president in Ukraine, memories of former excitements are fading. But only at the beginning of February did the EU Commission, against massive opposition, classify not only nuclear energy but also natural gas as sustainable. And now this: nuclear power plants and research reactors are being attacked with missiles that we paid for with our energy consumption.
When I photographed the loading platform for liquefied natural gas from the air in Australia in 2018, I still found the idea of an energy-guzzling transport halfway around the world absurd. Financially, such a thing is actually much more expensive than using a pipeline between peaceful trading partners.
At second glance, trade independent of fixed pipelines frees us from extraneous dependencies. Energy purchases from totalitarian states support the unfortunate effectiveness of the unjust regimes there. That should be clear to everyone by now. Qatar is also anything but unproblematic, and Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan are currently no better alternatives in terms of human rights.
I would like to see a more comprehensive view from our politicians, one that avoids the lack of alternatives and now also reconsiders the taxonomy. Sourcing liquefied natural gas from the U.S. or even Australia does not have to be cheap, but it does offer sufficient trading scope at prices in line with the market. Government subsidies are not sustainable but only an apparent solution that does not require market forces to be imaginative.
Sustainable, also in terms of the environment, can only be to promote alternative energies such as photovoltaics and wind power and to drastically reduce the consumption of fossil fuels.
By the way, ships run more environmentally friendly with gas than with heavy oil. With the right design, gas tankers can utilize at least the same amount of energy themselves that would otherwise evaporate unnoticed on its way through pipelines.