AMAC Exclusive – By Andrew Abbott
Amid a severe supply crunch as a result of the ongoing war in Ukraine, Western European nations have been left desperately scrambling to find new sources of energy to keep the lights on. Many are now turning to Africa to increase fossil fuel production – a startling reversal after Europe’s governments and investment banks have for years worked to block investment in and development of Africa’s energy resources.
Over the last 20 years, The European Union’s (EU) energy policy has been to invest heavily in renewable technology and import fossil fuels until such time that they become obsolete. But, as former President Trump repeatedly warned during his tenure, that plan of action left Europe dangerously reliant on foreign suppliers of fossil fuels – namely, Russia.
That warning proved prescient earlier this year with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Though many Western nations were quick to implement boycotts of Russian goods and products, countries like Germany simply could not cut off Russian supplies of natural gas without risking widespread blackouts. However, amid growing tensions with the West – and Chinese promises to purchase more Russian supplies – Russia cut off most natural gas shipments to Europe, sending the continent into an energy crisis that is threatening to spiral out of control.
As a result, many businesses have closed entirely due to being literally unable to keep the lights on. In some parts of Europe, energy costs have more than tripled in just a few months. In a desperate attempt to combat rising prices and conserve dwindling supplies, President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen earlier this month proposed a series of extreme and controversial energy cutting measures to “flatten the curve” of “astronomical” energy prices across Europe – including the mandatory reduction of energy supplies to consumers.
Additionally, nations like Germany are re-opening their few remaining coal power plants. Earlier this month, the French government announced that it would be reopening all of its nuclear power plants after initially planning mass closures. Other nations are also in full-scale retreat on their “green” policies, apparently finally recognizing the reality that renewable energy is nowhere close to being able to replace fossil fuels.
But even if these measures work in the short term (and most experts predict they won’t) Europe still needs to find new sources of energy to replace those lost from Russia.
Many European leaders are hoping the answer to that problem lies in Africa. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, for example, has initiated talks with Senegal to export the country’s offshore natural gas resources to Germany. Shipments are expected to begin in 2024. In April, EU diplomats began talks with Nigerian officials about developing additional natural gas fields there. French President Emmanuel Macron is similarly looking to forge a deal with Algeria.
These new developments represent a stark reversal of Europe’s prior treatment of fossil fuels investment in Africa. With the assistance of wealthy benefactors and activist organizations, European governments have spent decades pressuring international financing organizations, like the World Bank, to stop funding all new fossil fuels projects. While most developed nations have the resources to skirt these restrictions, developing African countries do not. Special interest groups, with the support of left-wing billionaire benefactors, have also aggressively pressured developing African nations to not invest in fossil fuels.
Instead, Europe has pushed a strategy of “energy leapfrogging” on Africa, insisting that developing nations can skip fossil fuels and go right to renewables to supply their energy needs. Because of these regulations and restrictions, African companies and leaders have for decades been unable access the capital necessary to refine and develop their domestic energy resources.
Unsurprisingly – especially given that Europe has failed to completely switch to renewables even with exponentially more capital and better infrastructure – African nations routinely struggle with blackouts and energy loss, common with energy sources like wind and solar. Nigeria, for example, has some of the largest oil reserves in all of Africa, yet almost half of the country lives without grid electricity – in no small part because woke Western banks will no longer invest in fossil fuels. Nigeria also has been prohibited from tapping into its vast gas reserves, further dooming the country to a state of perpetual poverty.
The West’s ideological commitment to “green energy” at any cost is a major reason why Africa’s economic growth and development has been stymied for so long. But now that European leaders are forced to face the same consequences of their policies, they are rapidly changing their tune when it comes to the development of fossil fuels in Africa.
For the rest of the world – including the United States – Europe’s turn to fossil fuels should make clear the failures of left-wing energy policy and the dangers of climate change alarmism. Though renewable energy may one day be the future of energy production, recklessly abandoning traditional sources of fossil fuel energy before renewables are clearly capable of replacing them is a sure path to destruction.
Andrew Abbott is the pen name of a writer and public affairs consultant with over a decade of experience in DC at the intersection of politics and culture.