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Concerns about energy-saving measures in Germany as it feels the bite of Russian gas confidence | World news

Under the Cologne morning sun, Nicole Metzinger swims relentlessly up and down the outdoor pool at Stadionbad.

It is the largest outdoor swimming complex in the city – an Olympic-sized pool, diving boards and a family pool. But now Nicole has the place to herself.

And back? Well, maybe because these days the water is just a little less inviting. Jump in, and you’ll notice it’s colder.

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Nicole Metzinger

The temperature is lowered to save energy.

Nicole, a regular distance swimmer, is relaxed about the cold. “I like it cold,” she tells me.

“The summer is too hot for me. But I know that other people are not so happy about this.”

Lowering the pool temperature is one of a series of measures being introduced in this city to reduce the amount of energy used.

Street lights are dimmed after 11 p.m. Prominent buildings will not be illuminated and an advertising campaign will tell the locals how to push their own consumption.

So far, so friendly. It’s hard to get angry about the lights being turned off at City Hall.

But drive 10 minutes out of the city, and you can see how Germany’s reliance on Russian gas is coming back to bite this nation.

Germany has enforced restrictions on heating
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The flow of gas through the Nord Stream pipeline, which connects Russia and Germany, has slowed to just 20% of capacity

Here there are streets lined with neat, clean apartment blocks built for lower-income residents. And the boilers are now being adjusted.

At night it doesn’t get so hot for the residents.

If they turn off their light, the heating will also disappear.

We meet Nazmiye Akkamis, who is 83 years old and lives with Alzheimer’s.

She is pushed down the street by her two daughters, Gull and Binnaz, who are both worried about the impact the energy-saving measures will have.

“Our mother needs it warm, especially in the winter,” says Gull.

“She is very old, spends a lot of time in the apartment and likes it warm. The price of energy, the limit has already been reached, the costs will continue to rise.”

Nazmiye Akkamis
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Nazmiye Akkamis

Binnaz nods: “My mother, we are all worried about what will happen. Just those thoughts and uncertainty. That scares us.”

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What seems to unite this country now is that sense of fear.

Germany is used to the feeling of solidity and certainty that comes with being the economic and political leader of Europe.

Now it seems as if it suddenly has to feel its way forward.

It’s not hard to see why. For years, German energy policy revolved around three things – phasing out nuclear power plants, continuing with coal, and importing gas from Russia.

It is the last of these that is now causing such pain. The flow of gas through the Nord Stream pipeline, which connects Russia and Germany, has slowed to just 20% of capacity.

Few outside the Kremlin have any idea when and whether the flow will increase, stay the same or simply stop.

That Germany is striving to end its reliance on Russian gas, and that leads to that contagious mood of uncertainty.

Paul Wieland lives near Nazmiye Akkamis. He is friendly and welcoming, blessed with an open smile, but he is also worried.

“Our government has made itself too dependent on different countries,” he tells me. “And this is now the big problem we are facing. We are dependent on them and now we have to pay for it.”

Paul Wieland
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Paul Wieland

He says he will deal with the heating restrictions by using a “warm, heavy blanket” and then says he will buy an electric heater if it becomes a problem.

Except, as we tell him, the rules say he can’t use the stove. Paul just shrugs and smiles.

“Let’s see what actually happens,” he says.

The Greens are in power in Germany, as part of a coalition government that is now facing an energy crisis.

The party has long campaigned for a large increase in renewable energy; now it’s part of a government turning back to coal and oil to keep the lights on.

Germany has enforced heating restrictions
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Germany has enforced heating restrictions

And that is the challenge for this powerful, wealthy, industrial nation of more than 83 million people – how to meet the needs of both households and businesses.

If energy must be truly, painfully rationed – where will the balance fall? A question that so far has no answer.

And while we are on questions – how long until Germany comes to terms with the fact that its decision to rely on Russia for its gas was a diplomatic gamble that went horribly, shamefully wrong?

And can Europe’s economic power really be seen on coal as its fallback answer?

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Concerns about energy-saving measures in Germany as it feels the bite of Russian gas confidence | World news

Source link Concerns about energy-saving measures in Germany as it feels the bite of Russian gas confidence | World news

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