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Right Stream, Left Stream: Politicized Energy


Which political camp owns nuclear energy, who owns the oil and who owns the coal? Affection for certain energy sources is an aspect of political identity today. A grotesque, fatal mistake.

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Photo: querbeet / iStockphoto / Getty Images

Please answer the following questions in your head: Which political direction does nuclear energy belong to?

Which oil?

And to which solar power?

My guess is that this assignment wasn't too difficult for you.

Nuclear power, for example, belongs to the right spectrum and has been for decades.

Nuclear power plants were a project by people like Franz Josef Strauss, CSU chairman from 1961 until his death in 1988. Strauss and the Greens with their "nuclear power, no thanks" stickers were linked by a deep hatred.

Forms of energy generation seem to have, at least often, a political home.

That is as absurd as, meanwhile, existentially threatening for humanity.

It makes sensible debates more difficult and replaces sensible action with power games.

It gets more complicated with coal

Shortly before the federal election in 1987, Franz Josef Strauss was on a talk show with Johannes Rau (SPD), permanent prime minister of the coal-based state of North Rhine-Westphalia.

A snippet of this broadcast made the rounds on Twitter in mid-August.

Strauss says: "Anyone who wants to burn more coal is a criminal against our bioclimatic conditions and against the next generation."

SPD man Rau interrupted him: "I deny that very vigorously."

Right wants out of the coal, doesn't the left?

In truth, Strauss was probably more interested in nuclear power plants than in the climate at the time, but of course he was right nonetheless.

Anders Rau, the SPD man from the country, which activists call »NRWE« because of its proximity to the coal company.

At that time, in the Federal Republic of Germany's coordinate system, coal was the energy source of the Social Democrats.

One of Rau's successors, Wolfgang Clement (SPD), joined the supervisory board of an RWE subsidiary after his time as prime minister.

Remnants of the loyalty to digging out raw CO₂, which had become a habit at the time, can still be found among older SPD politicians to this day.

Coal: sometimes left, sometimes right

Among other things, the Social Democrats send to the coalition negotiating group “Climate, Energy, Transformation”

Dietmar Woidke: born in Lausitz, Prime Minister of Brandenburg, former member of the Brandenburg lignite committee.

Oil, on the other hand, has always been on the right outside the Eastern Bloc - exceptions such as Venezuela confirm the rule.

In ultra-reactionary dictatorships like Saudi Arabia, of course, but also in the USA, where the Republicans made men from oil families president several times.

Corporations like Chevron and Exxon, actors like the Koch brothers led the decades-long climate disinformation campaign, the result of which today threatens the continued existence of mankind.

We now know that European corporations such as Total from France are also doing well.

Lies for business, this has now become blunt lying for power among Republicans.


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In this country and also in the USA, coal is no longer left, but right.

Defenders of the most damaging of all energy sources are CDU politician Carsten Linnemann, who is even traded as the future party chairman, Saxony's Prime Minister Michael Kretschmer, his predecessor Stanislav Tillich, once also chairman of the “coal commission”, today chairman of the board of the lignite group Mibminrag - and, of course, Union Chancellor candidate "Because today is such a day" Laschet.

Perhaps he will also find a job at RWE one day, there would be enough reason to be grateful.

To the right?


No: money and votes

In the US, too, coal is on the right.

Donald Trump celebrated you, the Republicans want to keep you as long as possible, just like the US Democrat Joe Manchin, Senator of the coal state West Virginia and now in the unique position of being able to blackmail Joe Biden's Democrats.

He does not want a CO2 tax or a program to support renewable energies.

Some people are so far to the right on other political issues such as abortion law, weapons, social programs that some are wondering what they are actually doing with the Democrats.

Manchin once founded a company that trades in coal.

He is still a shareholder and earned $ 500,000 there in 2020 alone.

Manchin is thus a good example of the true background of "right" and "left" forms of energy generation: As a rule, it is about personal or political advantages for one or the other party.

This probably explains why both the AfD and the Left are now speaking out against a CO₂ price for gasoline.

Right-wing extremists and left-wingers, trust united in the populist rejection of a bitterly necessary measure that could easily be compensated for in another way.

The Greens are to blame

Something like this is doubly dangerous, because over time the selfishly motivated support of certain energy sources becomes part of the political DNA of a party, part of its identity. "Pro-coal" is something like "pro gun" in the USA. In Germany, right-wing commentators, when they are pointed out to the miserable climate footprint of 16 years of union-led government, like to complain loudly about the nuclear phase-out - that is, to say goodbye to "right-wing" energy generation. The Greens are to blame (in the end it was Angela Merkel's decision).

The political positioning of the newer forms of energy generation is also being worked on diligently: With hydrogen, experts are fairly unanimous that it can play a role in industry and perhaps in the transport of goods, but otherwise not.

Nevertheless, H₂ is a hobbyhorse of the Union and FDP, sometimes also for demonstrably nonsensical application scenarios.

Fans of the fossil also like hydrogen

It looks similar internationally: old fans of fossil fuels like Australia and, of course, Saudi Arabia are demonstrably trying to weaken the absolutely unquestionably bitterly necessary departure from CO₂ generation, even in IPCC reports.

At the same time, there are big fans of hydrogen in both countries - as well as with oil companies such as Chevron, ExxonMobil, BP, Shell and Total.

That arouses suspicion.

Often the hydrogen should be produced by burning fossil fuels.

Allegedly one wants to capture and store the resulting CO₂, but nobody has yet shown in practice how this should work on a large scale.

Hydrogen is often a fossil fig leaf.

Is that "conservative"?

A battle is going on right now in front of the world.

On the one hand, there are those who have become rich and powerful through CO₂ production - so powerful that they have prevented the necessary change for decades through lobbying, corruption and disinformation.

more on the subject

Missed opportunity for climate protection: The moment when mankind took the wrong turnBy Marco Evers

Are they really conservatives?

Or just short-sighted, greedy, deluded egocentrics?

On the other hand, those who want to wrest power from these rich and terribly powerful industries and actors, convert the energy supply to one that taps into the earth system - sun, wind, water, tides - without throwing it off balance .

Everyone shouts "Ideology !!"

Fans of renewable energies are also not free from traditional ideological blinkers: The debate about the sense or nonsense of nuclear energy as a transition technology should not be conducted on the basis of political and identitarian feelings of belonging, but on the basis of sober calculations: what costs how much, honestly calculated, that also means including disposal and final storage? What to do with the shiny garbage Such honest calculations make nuclear energy look rather bad, but that often gets lost in the discussion because everyone is shouting "Ideology!"

One thing is certain: if in the past few decades only nearly as many subsidies had been invested in the further development of clean, renewable energy of the future as in subsidies for the forms of energy generation that have long been recognized as destructive - we would be much further ahead today.

But that was too "left".

In truth, all of this has little to do with right and left, but with irrationality and common sense.

And with the desire to stop being loaded by unscrupulous actors who are only interested in their own proceeds.

Source: spiegel

All tech articles on 2021-10-25

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