German vice chancellor reduces shower time ‘again’
German Vice Chancellor and Economy Minister Robert Habeck says he has had to once again “drastically reduce” the time he spends in the shower in an effort to cope with what he describes as an acute energy crisis.
Not heating apartments in winter would also greatly help Germany to overcome the difficulties allegedly caused by Russia, the minister told Der Spiegel magazine in an interview published on Friday.
When asked about his personal contribution to the nationwide effort to save as much gas as possible ahead of the “hard time” Germany faces in winter, Habeck said he was sticking to his own ministry’s recommendations. “I have once again drastically reduced my shower time,” he answered.
The minister apparently takes pride in his ability to have a “quick shower,” as he told Der Spiegel that he just “had to laugh” when his “Dutch colleague” told him about a planned campaign to encourage people to reduce the average shower time from 10 to five minutes. “I’ve never showered for five minutes in my life,” Habeck said, claiming he completes the task faster.
The minister also said he barely heats his apartment in winter since he “gets up at six and leaves by seven,” before returning “late.” Still, Habeck admitted he was a “bad example” because he enjoys a ministerial salary that “others only dream of.”
He said he is aware of people who “did not heat all the rooms in their apartments last winter.” Habeck warned that the worst is yet to come, since energy companies are “gradually” increasing prices for end consumers. “More people will be affected,” he said, adding that “we are already [in a situation] in which Germany has never been,” which he described as “a gas crisis.”
Describing the worst-case scenario, Habeck said “companies [will] have to cease their production, their workers [will] be laid off, supply chains will be collapsing; people are going to [go] into debt to pay their heating bills; people will be getting poorer and frustration will engulf the nation.”
Habeck has suggested some unconventional ways of overcoming energy shortages in the past. In April, he suggested working from home, avoiding driving, and taking up cycling to “annoy” Russian President Vladimir Putin, who he blames for the crisis.
Drawing the curtains while heating apartments in the evening and lowering the room temperature by one degree were also on the minister’s list of useful options. The two measures together would help save up to 5% of energy consumption, he said at the time.
On Friday, Habeck said he still believes Russia is gradually reducing gas-supply volumes to keep prices high and increase pressure on the German population “to stir up [the feeling] of insecurity and fear.”
Last week, gas flows through the undersea pipeline from Russia to Germany were cut by as much as 60%. Russian energy giant Gazprom said this was due to technical issues arising from Western sanctions against Moscow.
According to Gazprom, German equipment supplier Siemens Energy failed to return gas-pumping units to a compressor station on time. The repaired turbines for the Nord Stream pipeline are currently stuck at a maintenance facility in Canada due to Ottawa’s sanctions on Russia.
On Thursday, the Kremlin also hit back at the accusations leveled against Moscow by Germany and some other Western nations. Russia has earned a reputation as a reliable energy supplier which “strictly fulfills all its obligations,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.