The German government's new plan seeks to encourage all segments of society to use energy more efficiently in order to reduce the country's dependence on Russian fossil fuels by next winter.
"The cheapest and most efficient contribution to greater independence is less energy consumption," Minister of Economic Affairs and Climate Action, Robert Habeck said on Tuesday as he presented the plan.
If gas deliveries to Germany from Russia were halted, the country's industry and households would be 2 to 12 billion cubic metres of gas short next winter, depending on the weather, according to the Berlin-based energy consultancy, Aurora Energy Research.
"The coming winter is the critical phase," said Aurora expert Casimir Lorenz. However, it would probably take until 2027 or 2028 before Germany and the European Union (EU) would no longer have to fear gas shortages, Xinhua news agency reported.
Driven by the soaring energy and motor fuel prices, inflation in Germany already climbed to 7.4 per cent, a 40-year high, in April. Eurozone inflation was even higher at 7.5 per cent.
After the German government recently lowered its annual economic growth forecast to 2.2 per cent, the European Commission followed suit on Monday and slashed its 2022 gross domestic product growth forecast for Germany from 4 to 2.7 per cent, and increased the projected inflation rate to 6.1 from 3.5 per cent.
"Risks to the European economy from energy commodity supply disruptions remain very high," said Joachim Lang, Chief Executive of the Federation of German Industries, warning that an interruption of Russian gas exports would "stall growth in Europe and send the EU into recession".
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