Wrong energy policy affects the Middle East and the world: opinion

Much of the recent focus on energy in the Middle East relates to Israel’s newly discovered energy independence with its significant gas reserves in the Mediterranean. Furthermore, its new energy alliances with Greece, Cyprus, Italy and Egypt have the added benefit of strengthening diplomatic relations and Israel’s security position. That is the good news.

Now the bad news. What is underestimated as a significant security challenge is how the West’s desire for fossil fuel independence is strengthening the hand of authoritarian regimes in the region such as Iran and Russia, while weakening the influence of Western democracies. A liberal democracy is only as strong as its economic strength. The best way to maintain American influence is for the United States to be perceived as economically strong and committed to the Middle East.

If the West is true to its word, it will need to make a massive transfer of wealth to the poorest nations to help them eventually reduce their use of fossil fuels.

The price is staggering. According to a Wall Street Journal article: “At a global climate meeting in London in July, South Africa’s Environment Minister Barbara Creecy presented a bill to the world’s richest countries: more than $ 750 billion annually to pay the poorest nations to turn away from fossil fuels and protect themselves from global warming. Without the poorest countries on board, the world has little chance of preventing catastrophic climate change, say many climate scientists. “

A wealth transfer of that magnitude on an annual basis will not happen or ruin those countries. Not to mention the setback of Western citizens who would never accept sky-high energy bills indefinitely. The energy price outlook for this winter could threaten economic recovery around the world.

A man stands near a Chinese national flag flying on a cruise ship on the Yalu River that separates North Korea and China, in Dandong, Liaoning province, China, on April 20, 2021 (credit: REUTERS / TINGSHU WANG) .

Meanwhile, US competitors like China will use fossil fuels, including coal, to produce solar panels to sell to Western nations. China and much of the world promise carbon neutrality by 2050 or 2060, but you have to be utopian to believe that they will deliver on their promises as their appetite for carbon grows.

On a geopolitical level, an economically emboldened Russia would feel more secure in defying the West. It could consider further expansion to other parts of eastern Ukraine and become the only reliable energy corridor in the Middle East. The interests of the United States and Israel do not coincide with those of Russia, a friend of Iran, Turkey and Syria, all Israeli adversaries.

As the West commits to hari-kari by ending fracking and hoping that solar and wind power will replace natural gas and oil without harming their economies, the Russians, Iranians and the Gulf states will be more than happy to extort prices of inflated energy and fill your coffers. . Growing demand for fossil fuels from China and India will make the decline in the West seem negligible. This is the reality. And the damage to our economy, prestige, and ability to influence other nations to advance our security interests will be severely diminished. Especially if the West gives a long-term pass for the use of fossil fuels by China, India, Russia and the rest of the non-Western world.

This is not to say that reducing fossil fuels is wrong, either for climate control or for reducing pollution. In other words, the path the West is choosing is an illusion, if not impossible. Almost all of today’s products and services consume fossil fuels. The gains in renewables that replace fossil fuels with electricity are impressive, yet electricity accounts for only 20% of fossil fuel use.

Here’s the politically incorrect way, if you’re really interested in climate change and not signaling virtues by buying a Tesla. If you want to reduce man’s carbon footprint, the best and most reliable method would be nuclear power, which has become a safe source of energy despite its toxic name. The taboo against nuclear power should end if you believe that man-made climate change is a real threat to the planet. It is much safer than in the past and can be a sustainable energy source with almost no carbon footprint.

If you are ambitious and want to attack a primary source of CO 2 equivalents, aim for agriculture and man’s insatiable desire for animal protein. Create a type of lunar launch program to make animal meat in laboratories that cannot be distinguished from meat from slaughtered animals. Drastically reducing the methane footprint would be more important than eliminating all the cars, planes, buses and trains that burn fossil fuels.

As Walter Mead Russell wrote, “the assumption is that aggressively supporting the transition from fossil fuels to renewables will strengthen the hand of administration at home and abroad … the real problem is that the green agenda, such as currently conceived, it is an effective machine to undermine the economy and the economy. The political power of the democratic world and the momentum of influence of precisely the authoritarian powers that President Biden has made it his mission to oppose. By artificially depressing fossil fuel production and investment in the democratic world faster than renewables and other fuels can fill the gap, Biden’s policy promotes a multi-year, billion-dollar windfall for countries. like Russia, Iran and Saudi Arabia … Climate policy that is geopolitically and economically unsustainable will inevitably fail. “

US pleas for Gulf states to increase fossil fuel production have fallen on deaf ears as they are not eager to do a Biden administration any favors that prefers its nemesis Iran. As for Europeans, according to a WSJ editorial, “European leaders have put themselves at a disadvantage on energy [as] Putin takes advantage of the counterproductive climate policies of democratic Europe, but he is driving up energy prices, hurting consumers and industry, and now he is empowering the thugs in the Kremlin. [they should] classify nuclear energy as a sustainable energy source … lower[ing] the financing costs of nuclear projects ”.

We must recognize that our energy policy directed against climate change may undermine our security interests. This happens when we ask too much of renewables too soon and absolve the worst abusers of fossil fuels like China and Russia. If you really care about climate change and the environment, think about nuclear power in addition to solar and wind.

The writer is director of MEPIN (Middle East Political Information Network). He regularly reports to members of Congress and their foreign policy advisers. He is the senior security editor for The Jerusalem Report and a regular contributor to The Hill.


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