So, to sum up the current energy conundrum: Western Europe became increasingly dependent on Russian natural gas because they deemed it preferable to fracked gas from North America.
In the scramble to displace Russian gas, U.S. gas producers diverted supplies from China to Europe. China responded by replacing gas with high-carbon coal, ramping up domestic production and importing more low-quality coal from Indonesia and Mongolia.
Germany, meanwhile, is shuttering low-carbon nuclear plants and restarting idled coal plants as Russia cuts off its supply of gas. Joe Biden is set to visit Saudi Arabia – a country he labelled a “pariah” state – to appeal for increases to oil production to help drive down crude prices.
This complicated web of tradeoffs and unintended consequences – this existential dilemma – could be best summarized by philosopher Søren Kierkegaard, who wrote: “If you marry, you will regret it; if you do not marry, you will also regret it; if you marry or do not marry, you will regret both.”
This post was published in The Globe & Mail as a Letter to the Editor.