Energy Efficiency Is Our Greatest Weapon Against Putin
It is a common refrain for Western pundits to characterize Russia’s war on Ukraine as unprovoked. Even if we admit that to be true, we also have to admit that Europe finances Putin’s war when they buy Russia’s gas. Russia is using that dependence as leverage. From Naked Capitalism:
“…the West has seized a few yachts from Putin’s cronies, stopped serving Big Macs in Red Square, and slapped sanctions on everything except the one thing that really matters. With Russia supplying 40% of its gas and collecting an estimated $850 million daily, Europe is, in effect, funding its own invasion.”
Despite all the sanctions and the efforts to deprive Russia of new money, Russia still earns the better part of $1 billion a day from sales of natural gas to Europe alone. Russia doesn’t really care if that money takes the form of euros, dollars, or roubles. They’re still selling gas to Europe.
Joe Biden has mocked the rouble as “rubble”, but he can’t deny the people living in Europe of the natural gas they need to stay warm. That’s leverage. One thing we could do to deny Russia the leverage they need to pursue the war: Europe could reduce its dependence on Russia’s gas through a European Union-wide mobilization for efficiency.
Below is a screenshot from a presentation given by Amory Lovins, an engineer who once advised the Carter Administration about energy efficiency after the 1973 oil embargo. In 1976, Lovins published a 40-year plan to get America off of coal, oil, and gas — completely. Apparently, not much came of that plan.
What that chart tells us is that since 1975, America has conserved 27x more energy by designing more efficient homes, office buildings, and other infrastructure, than has been produced by renewable energy. That chart is from this video published on YouTube in 2020. What Lovins tells us is that, even though renewables are important, efficiency is far more important than energy production.