Eiffel Tower To Go Dark, Germany Evokes Berlin Airlift as Energy Crisis Grips Europe

In 2022 circumstances are much different, but what has not changed is that Moscow is the source of Berlin’s woes. 

AP/Rafael Yaghobzadeh, file
The Eiffel Tower at Paris, February 9, 2022. AP/Rafael Yaghobzadeh, file

The Eiffel Tower will no longer be floodlit and Germans were urged to remember the spirit of the Berlin Airlift as Europe reels from an energy crisis spurred by the war in Ukraine. The mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, announced that starting September 23, the lights at the iconic tower as well as those that illuminate city hall and a host of other Parisian monuments will be switched off nightly at 10 p.m. in a bid to save electricity. The German chancellor, Olaf Scholz, said that Germans must brace for a difficult winter, invoking the Berlin Airlift.

Mr. Scholz was speaking to a group of business leaders at Tempelhof Airport, focal point of the Airlift, when for 323 days in 1948 and 1949 Western allies airlifted supplies to the people of West Berlin following a Soviet blockade of Berlin’s western sectors. In 2022 circumstances are much different, but what has not changed is that Moscow is the source of Berlin’s woes. 

Germany is at pains to secure all energy it will need to get through winter following Russia’s shutdown of  the Nord Stream 1 pipeline, for which it blames Western-imposed sanctions. “The Berlin Airlift proves that the seemingly impossible can succeed if we courageously set big goals and work together,” Mr. Scholz said. “Of course we knew and we know that our solidarity with Ukraine will have consequences.”

Germany has filled its gas stores to nearly 90 percent of capacity but it is the deficiency and general precariousness of the situation that has businesses fretting and officials worried. Reuters reported that Mr. Scholz said Germany would have the infrastructure necessary to import all the gas it needs by the end of 2023 and pointed to the construction of liquefied natural gas terminals off the country’s coast, but meanwhile the leaves are only starting to change color in Berlin ahead of winter 2022 and Germans know that soaring energy bills, as elsewhere in Europe, will likely not be coming down before Christmas or even after. 

France is less affected by the Kremlin’s energy antics, in part because nuclear power supplies most of the country’s electricity. In that respect, the decision to let the French capital’s most iconic monument go dark could be partly a show of solidarity with Germany and France’s other European Union partners. It was not immediately clear just how much electricity will be saved by not lighting up the tower, which was constructed in 1889 and stands more than a thousand feet tall.

Ms. Hidalgo also said that as part of the French government’s goal to reduce energy consumption by 10 percent across the board, public buildings will henceforth be heated one degree less — in fahrenheit, that is, to 64.4 degrees instead of the present 66.2 degrees.

If Mr. Scholz intends to follow Paris’s lead and dim the lights at German monuments such as Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate, he made no indication of doing so in his speech on Tuesday. He focused instead on Germany’s efforts to invest more in liquefied natural gas, and some of those efforts have already come to fruition in the form of new offshore LNG terminals and collaborations with Canada. But to arrive at that warmer and brighter future, the chancellor appeared to be saying, Germans will have to buck up and get through a few months of a chillier than normal winter season. 

Meanwhile, though Russian energy giant Gazprom said last week that it would be shutting down Nord Stream 1 indefinitely, Reuters reported that as of Monday natural gas flows from Russia to Europe were proceeding along other key routes. That is one indication that, if it were so inclined, Moscow could alleviate many of Western European’s energy anxieties. Yet with Western sanctions in a lock as long as Moscow presses on with its failing military campaign against Ukraine, the Kremlin strongman is likely to keep wielding energy as a weapon for as long as he can.

The New York Sun

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