The European Commission’s Energy Strategy published on Tuesday is heavily reliant upon imported gas for the next twenty years. Although the document claims to be about “energy security”, like the policies adopted by the UK government, the strategy leaves the European Union dangerously exposed to disrupted supplies from Russia, Libya and the Gulf States.
Critics have attacked the policy as being totally out of step with the climate change commitments agreed at the COP21 conference in Paris last December. But the Commission is concerned to balance CO2 reduction with energy security:
“After the gas crises of 2006 and 2009 that left many millions out in the cold, we said: ‘Never again’. But the stress tests of 2014 showed we are still far too vulnerable to major disruption of gas supplies. And the political tensions on our borders are a sharp reminder that this problem is will not just go away. Today’s proposals are about a reliable, competitive and flexible system in which energy flows across borders and consumers reap the benefits. They are about standing together to protect the most vulnerable. And they are about securing our clean energy future: I can assure that our commitment to a clean energy transition is irreversible and non-negotiable.”
Like the UK government, the Commission intends to mitigate security of supply issues by investing heavily in new storage capacity and by “moderating energy demand.” This seemingly innocuous phrase may well have a chilling (in both senses of the word) effect on EU citizens. In secret papers leaked to the Guardian, the Commission will tell Ministers that in order to meet climate change targets and maintain energy security, the people of Europe will face “profound lifestyle changes.”
Exactly what these lifestyle changes will be is unclear. However, as we have pointed out in The Consciousness of Sheep and Britain’s Coming Energy Crisis we can look forward to energy shortages and much higher energy prices in the near future. While it is impossible to know exactly how this is going to play out across the European economy, we are certain to see a reversal of White’s Law:
“Culture evolves as the amount of energy harnessed per capita per year is increased, or as the efficiency of the instrumental means of putting the energy to work is increased.”
To put it another way, Europeans are going to be spending a lot more of their incomes on energy, while working harder and for longer, and consuming far fewer goods and services in exchange.