FIRST, the good news. Vladimir Putin's chokehold on gas has done more to advance the cause of renewable energy than all the hot air expended at COP26. Phasing out fossil fuels has become the number one priority for Europe now that the dash for gas has turned into what The Economist magazine calls “gastastrophe”. Scotland's abundant offshore and onshore wind is now a strategic resource.

But you know what the bad news is, don't you? In the short term, the crisis is leading to a boom in fossil fuels as countries seek alternatives to the gas that they can no longer rely upon from Russia.

Vladimir Putin is using hydrocarbons as a weapon, forcing up prices by cutting supplies to Europe. This morning Gazprom will cut the flow from the crucial Nord Stream 1 gas pipeline by 80 per cent for “maintenance”. In anticipation, European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen has announced potential energy rationing in Europe for the first time since the Second World War. EU countries are supposed to reduce their energy consumption voluntarily by 15%, but Brussels reserves the right to make it compulsory if, as expected, Putin turns the taps off again this winter.

Read more: Iain Macwhirter: Europe’s foolish dependency on Russia's oil and gas

No one is taking any chances. Germany was the first to start reopening its coal-fired power stations, resorting to the most toxic of all fossil fuels – bizarrely with the full support of the German Green Party. It's not alone. Austria, Poland, the Netherlands and Greece are all ramping up coal-fired energy production. The UK has all but removed coal from energy generation and will stop using it altogether next year, just as European countries are reopening their plants.

You may wonder why a country like Greece needs coal in the middle of a heatwave – but like all Mediterranean countries it is in difficulties because hot weather leads to greater use of air conditioning. In India, most people don't have air conditioning, but the energy price is still leading the second-most populous country the planet to increase coal production.

This is desperately serious. Once coal regains a foothold in the energy supply it will be difficult to remove it. It is creating some bizarre anomalies. The German Green Party, which is actually in government with the SDP, says opening coal is “the right thing to do” rather than extend the life of Germany's nuclear power plants.

Environmentalists don't like it, but most of Europe is in a dash for nuclear, Britain included. Belgium is reopening two of its old reactors. Finland has just opened Europe's largest-ever nuclear plant, Olkiluoto 3. That's the first new reactor to be built in Europe in 15 years. The UK has at least two in the pipeline, not including Boris Johnson's much-hyped Small Modular Reactors.

Countries are no longer prepared to risk being dependent on imports of energy from Russia or from the Middle East potentates. Energy supply is now a matter of national security. EU countries are already squabbling over energy cuts and there is mounting anger at Germany for making Europe so dependent on Russian gas.

Why didn't they see it coming? Well, it was part of a devil's bargain which allowed Europe's industrial behemoth to give the appearance of addressing climate change – exporting the blame for fossil fuel use.

Everyone is reviewing their energy supply chains, including Britain. The UK Government made a dramatic U-turn on the Jackdaw gas field, 250 miles of Aberdeen, development of which it blocked a year ago. It is similarly backing early development of Siccar's Cambo oil field off Shetland.

The SNP based its energy policy on “Scotland's Oil” in the 2104 referendum, but for the last couple of years it has switched to “keep it in the ground” as Nicola Sturgeon sought environmental brownie points by opposing both Cambo and Jackdaw. The SNP would prefer to import oil and gas from Russia and repellent regimes in the Middle East like Saudi Arabia.

Greenpeace is taking the UK Government to court for giving consent for Jackdaw. This legal action seems doomed to failure now. Using imported oil and gas in place of your own does not advance Net Zero by one day. All it does is increase prices and export skilled jobs and valuable energy revenues to the Middle East, Norway and Russia – skills that are needed for the imminent transition to renewable energy.

Scotland has 25% of Europe's offshore wind energy potential. The latest Scotwind leasing round is for 50GW of offshore wind. With 35GW of onshore wind, that's enough to power the whole of the UK and then some. But it won't happen overnight. Unless some way can be found to unblock the planning process, these farms won't be on stream for two decades. In the meantime we are dependent on Mr Putin and his pals.

Read more: Reasons to be cheerful about COP26

We're often told that we don't import hydrocarbons from Russia, but of course we do even if most of our gas comes from Qatar and Norway. The value of UK energy imports from Russia actually went up last year from £4.5 billion to £4.8bn even as we used less gas. The increase in the energy price means Putin is murdering all the way to the bank.

Russia's export earnings have risen by $18bn since Putin invaded Ukraine. European sanctions have largely failed to bring economic collapse or a withdrawal of Russian forces. The rouble has stabilised because Russia is coining it in since the price of gas went up seven-fold.

Governments, already overspent by the pandemic, face the massive cost of keeping voters from freezing. The £1,200 grants to eight million poorer families, announced last month by Rishi Sunak when he was still Chancellor, are not going to be enough. For the first time since the three-day week back in 1973, we are going to be forced to reduce usage and the only fair way to achieve that is through rationing.

Well, we accepted lockdown so why not black-outs? The energy gap will likely plunge Europe into recession. This is going to be a very long cold winter.

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