No sooner has the western world, at least, the corona pandemic under control than the fear of a new international crisis - an energy crisis.

The ingredients are ready: soaring prices for all kinds of energy sources, angry citizens and hectic governments.

This combination should not be underestimated.

In contrast to the virus, the record prices for gas, oil, electricity and fuel do not kill people.

Nevertheless, there are many who suffer.

And unfortunately there is no such thing as a fast-acting vaccine.

Even if the acute symptoms of the crisis should subside in spring, the turbulence on the energy markets could only be the beginning of a chronic burden for citizens and companies in Germany and far beyond.

There are several reasons why a liter of diesel at German petrol pumps is more expensive than ever before and why energy costs around 14 percent more than a year ago.

The most important one is actually enjoyable.

In Asia, America and Europe, the economy picked up speed again at breakneck speed following the economic downturn triggered by the coronavirus.

Other countries have already reacted

The hunger for energy is great. That is why not as many raw materials as necessary can be delivered at the moment. In China, entire cities have had their electricity cut off from time to time, and there have also been supply bottlenecks in India and Great Britain. Traffic jams on the world's oceans and other special effects exacerbate the situation. The prices are also rising because OPEC and Russia have their hands on the oil and gas taps and are not bringing more to the market than is absolutely necessary. This brings high revenue and political influence to the suppliers, while the rest of the world watches helplessly.

Unfortunately, those who suffer are those who had particularly little to laugh about during the pandemic: people with precarious jobs, low incomes and children who have to be cared for.

In Spain it has already driven the citizens onto the streets.

Because of a peculiarity on the electricity market, the high prices there quickly affect end customers.

It is not surprising that the government in Madrid is already taking countermeasures with tax cuts, price caps and profit withdrawals from energy companies.

In France, too, Emmanuel Macron, who six months before the presidential election need no new yellow vest protests, is keeping prices under control with market intervention and subsidies.

There will also be checks for French drivers.

Higher Hartz IV payments

Other EU countries are examining or implementing similar measures - but behind the scenes the rifts have long been torn.

Spain is angry that the EU Commission is no longer doing anything.

France and other countries are promoting nuclear power and blaming Germany and other countries with a high proportion of fossil fuels for the high electricity prices.

It is questionable whether there will be a convergence of positions at the EU summit at the end of the week.

In this crisis, Germany has to give a short-term and a long-term answer, regardless of Europe.

In the short term, the new federal government has to perform a balancing act: on the one hand, it is important to cushion the social consequences of the price jumps, on the other hand, not to let the price signals desired by climate policy become too ineffective.

Therefore, higher Hartz IV and housing allowance payments would be more sensible as a price cap.

Both must be adapted to rising energy costs more quickly than before.

Germany has an efficient welfare state that can absorb hardships.

However, no parallel social policy should be pursued with climate policy.

The real task is climate neutrality in 2045.

Which brings us to the long-term answer.

The fluctuating, but rising prices are only a foretaste of what lies ahead during the radical restructuring towards zero emissions.

Slowly but surely, it must also become clear to the last person that the switch to green energies in industry, traffic and your own four walls will be one of the biggest upheavals in your own life span.

The times when electricity simply came from the socket and cheap gasoline was a matter of course are over once and for all. This is good for the climate, but bad for resilience to crises: the “green” chemical industry alone will need as much electricity as all of Germany put together, according to a previous BASF boss. Representatives from cities and municipalities are already clapping their hands over their heads when they think that their power grids will soon have to supply countless electric cars and heat pumps. The most important power highway "Südlink" is now years behind schedule, and the last nuclear power plant is due to go offline in the coming year.

The future federal government therefore not only needs strength to accelerate the expansion of renewables.

It also takes courage to consider extending the service life of nuclear power plants.

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