Energy expert points to unprecedented crisis Energy expert points to unprecedented crisis

Energy expert points to unprecedented crisis

    NEWSROOM TOKYO Business Anchor
    The world is running short of energy, and Russia's invasion of Ukraine is pouring fuel on the fire. One expert warns the effects could be more severe than the oil shock of the 1970s.

    "One reason this could be worse, is that the energy crisis of the 1970s only involved oil. This involves natural gas and coal and even involves nuclear fuels," says S&P Global Vice Chairman Daniel Yergin, a Pulitzer Prize-winning author and expert in the field.

    "And secondly, one of the main protagonists in this is a nuclear weapons country, whose president has several times threatened to use nuclear weapons, either directly or indirectly. And of course, that person is Vladimir Putin."

    Daniel Yargin
    Daniel Yargin says the effect of Russia's invasion of Ukraine could be worse than the oil shock in the 1970s.

    Middle East unrest and the Iranian Revolution disrupted oil shipments to the West and fueled record inflation during the 1970s. There are striking similarities to what we are seeing now.

    "The major risk is interruption of supplies, disruptions, which will create shortages and continue to drive up the price – ultimately pushing the world into a global recession or worse," says Yergin.

    He also points out that other problems, such as the global food crisis, are intrinsically linked to the spiraling costs of energy.

    "It's estimated that 70% of the cost of food is actually energy – not only in terms of fertilizers, but in terms of planting and in terms of processing and transportation. So this crisis feeds into the entire economy," he says.

    EU, Japan fret over 'political energy'

    Russia recently shut Nord Stream 1, the largest gas pipeline to Germany, for regular maintenance. And although Moscow says the taps will be turned back on, the European Union fears permanent closure as punishment for Western sanctions.

    Yergin suggests the bloc has left itself woefully vulnerable in the transition to greener energy.

    Nord Stream 1 Baltic Sea gas pipeline in Lubmin, Germany

    "Europe's commitment to renewables was based on dependence on Russian energy, especially Germany. And now Germany is scrambling to build receiving terminals for LNG, burning coal, and regretting shutting down nuclear plants that provided 25% of its electricity," he explains.

    Japan is also at risk of paying a similar price for supporting Ukraine. Officials worry Moscow could stop the flow of gas from Sakhalin 2, an LNG and oil development project in Russia's Far East that provides about 10% of Japan's imported gas.

    "Russia has been the world's third-largest oil producer," says Yergin. "And now, the world has to regard the country's oil and gas as 'political energy' – and an unreliable source of energy."

    So where do we go from here? Yergin reminds us that 82% of the world's energy still comes from oil, gas and coal. He says it's time our leaders and CEOs had a rethink about energy security and how to transition to renewables in a way that minimizes disruption to people's lives.

    "It's not being optimistic or pessimistic. It's just looking at the facts, and being realistic."

    Watch video 05:58