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The green “delusion” that put us at Putin’s mercy

An oil pumping unit in Russia. Andrey Rudakov/Bloomberg/Getty

How has Vladimir Putin managed to invade Ukraine? One crucial factor, says Michael Shellenberger in Common Sense, is that the Russian president understands economic realities better than his counterparts in the West. “The maths is simple”: Europe produces less than a quarter of the oil it needs, and less than half the natural gas. Russia produces more than three times as much oil as it needs, and nearly twice as much gas. And Europe is utterly dependent on Russian energy. When Brussels announced sanctions on the country last month, it specifically exempted energy products.

How did Europe allow itself to become so reliant on an authoritarian regime? The answer is that the West is in the grip of a “delusional” green ideology that insists we don’t need nuclear power and natural gas. It’s nonsense: you can’t power a whole energy grid with solar and wind, “because the sun and the wind are inconstant”. And as the West “fell into a hypnotic trance about healing its relationship with nature”, Putin cannily doubled nuclear energy production so that he could sell more of Russia’s oil and gas to Europe. It worked a treat. In 2016, 30% of the EU’s natural gas came from Russia; by early last year, it was nearly 47%. In service to Greta Thunberg, Europe has “made the perfect the enemy of the good – and of Ukraine”.