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Looming EU, UK energy crisis: ‘There is a risk of famine’

In the UK as well as Germany, food and industry leaders are sounding the alarm, warning of a looming energy crisis which will lead to serious food shortages and collapsing industries. The intransigent political pro-Ukrainian positions of European and British leaders will soon be punishing consumers severely. 

Published: April 1, 2022, 11:50 am

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    President Vladimir Putin has demanded that “unfriendly countries” settle their energy payments in rubles after the EU and UK called for debilitating economic sanctions against Russia. Although calls for sanctions against Russia were criticised by many opposition politicians as extremely shortsighted, European leadership has ignored them. The dire predictions are sadly coming true.

    In The UK, the National Farmers’ Union has warned the UK was “sleepwalking” into a food crisis. This has become inevitable with soaring energy and fertilizer costs impacting the already small margins of producers.

    The CEO of German chemical giant BASF has similarly warned of Europe facing the most “catastrophic” economic crisis since World War II. In an interview with the Frankfurter Allgemeine newspaper,  Martin Brudermüller said: “It’s not enough that we all turn down the heating by 2 degrees now” given that “Russia covers 55 percent of German natural gas consumption”.

    If Russian gas is cut off, “many things would collapse” in Germany. “To put it bluntly: This could bring the German economy into its worst crisis since the end of the Second World War and destroy our prosperity. For many small and medium-sized companies in particular, it could mean the end. We can’t risk that!”

    Overall, European gas prices rose 500 percent in a year, while fertilizer prices have tripled together with packaging, diesel, freight and labour. Hungarian Prime Minister Orban pointed out the obvious: Europe will not be able to replace Russian gas with expensive American gas.

    In Britain, because of bad weather, farmers grow cucumbers, plant peppers, aubergines, and tomatoes in greenhouses which use natural gas for heat. “All the years of us working hard to get to where we are, and then one year it could just all finish,” one farmer told Reuters. His 30 000 square meters of greenhouses which supply major supermarkets in the UK shuttered because costs outpace market prices.

    The Valley Growers Association, whose members produce around two-thirds of the UK’s cucumber and sweet pepper crop, said 90 percent of farmers could not plant a single thing in January due to elevated gas prices.

    Brudermüller did not mince words about the total hubris which has enveloped Germans thanks to their incompetent political class: “Many have misconceptions. I notice that in many of the conversations I have. People often make no connection at all between a boycott and their own job. As if our economy and our prosperity were set in stone.”

    Higher prices are already having a huge impact on the food supply given at this point BASF has been forced to reduce the production of ammonia for fertilizer production, he underscored.

    Brudermuller added that this was “a catastrophe and we will feel it even more clearly next year than this one. Because most of the fertilizers that the farmers need this year have already been bought. In 2023 there will be a shortage, and then the poor countries in particular, for example in Africa, will no longer be able to afford to buy basic foodstuffs”.

    He concluded with a chilling message: “There is a risk of famine.”

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