Germany’s finance minister told the BBC that Germany no longer needs to buy energy from Russia.
Christian Lindner said that since Russia invaded Ukraine last year, everything about Germany’s energy infrastructure has changed.
After the invasion, Russia cut off Europe’s gas supply. People worried that there might be blackouts this winter because of this.
Mr. Lindner said, though, that Germany had found other ways to get energy.
He said that Germany needs to get its energy from somewhere else besides Russia.
Germany used to get about half of its oil from Russia and more than a third of its gas.
But Russia stopped sending gas to the country in August, and Germany stopped buying oil from Russia at the beginning of the year.
In a rush to find other energy sources, the country has reopened coal-fired power plants, put off plans to close its three remaining nuclear power plants, and worked to improve its ability to store natural gas from Norway and the US.
At the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland, Mr. Lindner talked about how quickly a new LNG terminal was built in Germany. He said it was built in a world-record amount of time, which was about eight months. He also said that more money was going to be spent on infrastructure.
He said, “This is just one way in which the German government has changed.”
“Since Angela Merkel was chancellor, we have realized that we need to be more competitive. At that time, everything was about the good things from the past. Now, we’re building up the strengths we’ll need in the future, “he said.
Germany embroiled in a green trade war
When Mr. Lindner said there was “some evidence” that Germany’s inflation peaked last year, he made it sound hopeful.
He said, “It’s likely that the world and European economies are improving faster than we thought.”
But green subsidies could cause the EU and the US to have a bad trade fight.
Last year, the US spent a huge $370 billion (£299 billion) on environmentally friendly technologies. This included giving tax breaks to people who bought US-made electric cars.
But the law has some “made in America” rules that make people in Europe worry that businesses outside the US will lose out.
When Emmanuel Macron, the French president, went to Washington last month, he said US rules were “very strict.”
Mr. Lindner said he did not want the European Union and the United States to go to war over these rules.
‘Must not happen’
He said, “We can’t have a race to see who can pay more subsidies.” “That can’t happen.”
What Mr. Lindner said shows how hard it would be for Europe to come up with a response to the US climate law, which is called the Inflation Reduction Act.
France wants to respond with its own “buy European” incentives, and EU officials have also said that “decisive” steps will be taken this week.
Mr. Lindner said it was important to keep the playing field level, but he wanted the two sides to work out exemptions for companies or develop a new trade deal instead of giving more subsidies to one side than the other.
“There is a threat to a level playing field, and I take this seriously,” he said. “But we spend and invest much more than the US side, so we don’t need to be afraid.”
“Some Europeans see the Inflation Reduction Act as an opportunity to put ideas they’ve had in the past into action. I think it’s a chance to make Europe more competitive, make more progress on the capital markets union, and negotiate a free trade deal with the US, but not to pay more subsidies, “he said.
Unlike the big French car companies, many German companies already have a large presence in the US, including factories.
Even some American companies don’t like the “made in America” rules because many of their products have parts made in other countries.
Putin uses food as a weapon
The head of one of the biggest fertilizer companies in the world has said that Vladimir Putin is “weaponizing food” and that this is happening all over the world.
After Russia’s invasion of Ukraine hurt food supplies and prices worldwide, Svein Tore Holsether from Yara said that countries should depend less on Russia.
Russia is one of the biggest countries that send fertilizers and the chemicals used to make them to other countries.
But the war makes it hard to get supplies, and the natural gas price has increased. In addition, natural gas is a key ingredient in making fertilizer, so its price has increased.
Because of this, fertilizer prices have reached all-time highs worldwide, forcing farmers to raise food prices and pressure people.
Russia saved fertilizer for use last year. As a result, even though the country’s exports went down, its export revenues rose by 70% because it paid record prices for fertilizer, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation.
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India and Turkey got more goods from Moscow. Russia also makes a lot of nutrients, like potash and phosphate, which are important parts of fertilizers that help plants and crops grow.