In the area of ​​tension between the energy and climate crisis, the policy of the responsible minister Habeck seems somehow aimless and produces more question marks than exclamation marks. This strange Qatar-Brunsbüttel deal fits into the picture.

“Character is proven in a crisis,” Helmut Schmidt was convinced. His political life – whether as a senator, minister or chancellor – was marked by crises. He steered Hamburg through the storm surge, and later the Federal Republic through the oil crisis, Cold War and terror. The SPD politician also had to put up with setbacks and defeats, but his inner compass always pointed north.

Robert Habeck is also a child of the North and has even been called the “green Helmut Schmidt”. Habeck is strong in character, he is also good at explaining things and rarely gets lost in politician platitudes. He’s someone you usually like to listen to, although or perhaps because his own tonality sounds like inner turmoil and a Grönemeyer ballad.

Without a doubt, the Vice Chancellor is the most prominent member of this red-green-yellow federal government. This is due to Habeck himself, but above all to the crisis mentioned at the beginning, which is in fact a multi-crisis, and above all has to do with energy, the costs and effects of which – also on the climate.

When the coalition agreement was signed last December, gas and electricity had not yet eaten a swath into German checking accounts. A key goal of the traffic light parties was to speed up the energy transition with the help of gas as a bridging technology. Obstacles to the expansion of renewables should be removed and fossil fuels such as coal and oil, and in the medium term also gas, should be reduced. A good plan.

But what is the reality in Germany? Gloomy and dirty, to put it bluntly, as Europe-wide evaluations of CO2 emissions show. This is partly due to the fact that the phase-out of coal was postponed in view of the energy crisis and twelve hard coal and lignite-fired power plants were brought back online in October in order to reduce the proportion of more expensive electricity generated from gas.

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In this context, Habeck’s tours to North America and the Persian Gulf, where the aim was, among other things, to bag fossil raw materials, seemed unclear and not very stringent. From 2026 to 2041, two million tons of liquid gas coming from Qatar will land in Brunsbüttel every year. The deal is being handled privately, but Habeck paved the way in the emirate. The Economics Minister did not want to celebrate. Rightly so.

Firstly, the promised amount is manageable. Secondly, the gas will not be of use to us until 2026 at the earliest – or not anymore. Thirdly, the question arises as to how Qatar, Gianni Infantino’s adopted homeland, fits together with a value-based German foreign policy, given that we are already talking so much about diversity and human rights. And fourthly, gas deliveries don’t actually fit in the least bit with the federal government’s decarbonization strategy. “15 years is great,” Habeck thinks anyway.

“We have to triple the speed of emission reduction in order to still achieve the climate targets,” said the Economy and Climate Minister in January. And further: “We want to become climate-neutral by 2045 and increase the proportion of renewable energies to 80 percent by 2030.”

It remains a mystery why Habeck relies on gas imports and coal firing while he has pulled through the phase-out of low-CO2 nuclear power against the explicit advice of the economic experts. Also and especially under the changed signs of the energy crisis. Because it should be clear to the Greens in particular that this policy tends to be more harmful to the climate.

The freely translated quote from Winston Churchill, the legendary Prime Minister of Great Britain: “Never waste a good crisis”. Unfortunately, Robert Habeck is right in the middle of it.

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Federal Economics Minister Habeck has now confirmed the gas deal with Qatar, but otherwise does not want to say much about it. With his trip to the emirate in the spring, he only set the political framework. What does the agreement mean for Germany now? A gas market expert explains.

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