Speaking to the German newspaper Rheinische Post on Thursday, July 7, Minister of Education Bettina Stark-Watzinger said it should be a priority for the government of left-wing Chancellor Olaf Scholz to make sure that schools and universities remain open through the winter, even if it means the country ends up running low on gas. (Related: Germany to reopen coal-fired power plants as Russia throttles Europe's gas supplies.)
To this end, Stark-Watzinger proposed that educational facilities be classified as critical infrastructure so that they can maintain their access to gas supplies even during extreme shortages.
"I campaigned during the [Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19)] pandemic already for educational facilities to be designated as critical infrastructure," she explained. "Even now, special attention should be paid to them so that there are as few teaching restrictions or even cancellations as possible."
Stark-Watzinger said if educational institutions are designated as critical infrastructure, they will have to be smart about how they use energy. She added that many schools and universities are already reevaluating how they use energy to look at ways they can voluntarily reduce consumption.
Maike Finnern, chairperson of the Education and Science Workers' Union of Germany, noted that a lot of educational institutions in the country are already energy efficient. But she acknowledged that there is still a lot of room for improvement, especially when it comes to older, "ailing" schools that are not adequately insulated.
"During the past COVID-19 winters, we had to experience what it means when politicians cut back on schools," said Finnern. "Because there were no air filters, children and young people had to go to class with the windows open in their winter jackets. Parents and students shouldn't have to experience that again."
Gas shipments to Europe via the Nord Stream 1 pipeline from Russia dropped to about 40 percent of its capacity last month, with Moscow claiming this is the result of Western sanctions. To make matters worse for the continent, the pipeline is going to shut down completely for 10 days in mid-July for scheduled maintenance.
Minister-President of the state of Bavaria Markus Soder has already warned of the possibility of implementing "gas triage."
Minister of Economics, Labor and Energy for the state of Brandenburg Jorge Steinbach said it was "almost certain" that Russian President Vladimir Putin would throttle gas supplies sent through Nord Stream 1 even further once its scheduled maintenance is complete.
Many parts of Germany are already rationing gas due to high energy prices. Vonovia, Germany's largest housing association with over 350,000 apartments that house more than one million people, was forced to make occupants turn down heating systems and reduce the flow of hot water to conserve supplies. Many fear similar schemes could become more widespread as winter approaches.
Read more stories about the fuel crisis around the world at FuelSupply.news.
Watch this episode of the "Health Ranger Report" as Mike Adams, the Health Ranger, talks about the European Union declaring natural gas to be "green energy" as it tries to shore up the continent's gas supplies.