When the discussion erupted again in January that Groningen should again supply extra natural gas, I immediately called that a wrong idea on this blog. Even when some administrators and press people first reacted with half-hearted statements such as that Groningen should get extra money again. But that’s not what the Groninger is about. With the fierce reactions, the whole idea quickly seemed off the table.
So it seemed. Indeed. But now that the war in Ukraine is increasingly developing into an international trade and production war, especially aimed at energy – such as gas – as a weapon, all kinds of figures are once again claiming in the media that Groningen should deliver after all… ‘If it’s the only way.’ blabla. In particular, we hear language constructions that mean that ‘Groningen must of course be spared, but if there is no other option…’ Come on, this is not a door that is ajar. Who decides what cannot be done differently?
It is a bitter and false perspective. That reasoning boils down in advance to the fact that at the end of the day, the Groningerveld will have to bear the successful sanctions. And that that will never fully succeed and that capital and the government will have to decide what should be done. While, of course, the people of Groningen will be sidelined in all that ‘opinion formation’. Do deliver and do not determine anything yourself. Thank you for meaningless promises.
Fortunately, Groningen – as it looks now – finds an ally with a backbone in the person of Hans Vijlbrief. In interviews, this State Secretary stated that he actually came to see people’s homes, to talk to families and then to draw conclusions that cast the whole argument of security of supply in a false light. Of course, energy is needed, even if the crisis worsens. But that does not mean that Groningen has to pay for a security of supply that has long been discussed. You can also deal with energy differently and that is more obvious than ever – think of the climate crisis.
Applying the security of supply argument to the apparently weakest party in the game is extremely false. For the umpteenth time it comes down to the fact that the residents will have to scratch their heads if they don’t want to wait until Sint Juttemis. And the whole logic that everything would now revolve around the economics of security of supply is also factually completely incorrect. The climate crisis with its enormous consequences demands that the emission of environmentally harmful gases must be drastically and quickly reduced as soon as possible. In that light, the gas and commodities crisis doesn’t look too bad.
What about the idea of a reduction in gas consumption (for example) 10% anyway, with the necessary practice with producing heat and retaining it in the short term? For example, with 10 degrees of frost, the residents of the neighborhood can take care of it as if it were a flood. Use heat and energy collectively and not individually at home with the stove on in all situations. Collectively become resilient if nature partially and temporarily no longer supplies what could be expected until recently. There is actually no more certainty than the general climate (un)certainty.
Be creative and rather focus on the guaranteed delivery of a cohesive society, with all appropriate measures. Then everyone can participate in consuming the energy that is needed.
Measures about heat, sharing space, appropriate workplaces, (temporarily) no longer flying unless it is really necessary. And so on. Make individual solutions work for society as a whole, not just as a commercial product for the individual.
There you have it. Without even showing a figure, you can switch the discussion about the security of gas supply to a more appropriate, more attractive and perhaps unavoidable perspective in the short term.
Groningers like to serve the common good, but that is something different from the closing post of false, biased discussions. Groningen gas, crystal clear, just leave the rest in the ground. And at the same time come up with something better for now.
Jasper Schaaf (1950) studied philosophy at the RUG and graduated in 1978 with Joseph Dietzgen’s influence on the Dutch labor movement. Schaaf was active in Vietnam campaigns, peace movement, student movement, community work, left-wing political parties and trade unions. Administrative positions in the trade union movement, education and welfare work. And a great lover of nature.