Scholz and Habeck on a treasure hunt in Canada
Chancellor Scholz’s government plane has never been so crowded. 13 top managers and Vice Chancellor Habeck are also accompanying him to Canada. “Team Germany” has big plans.
In about two dozen countries on four continents has Federal Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) since he was sworn in in December. For none of them did he put as much effort into his inaugural visits as he does now for Canada. Scholz takes three days to visit the second largest country in the world in terms of area, which has less than half the population of Germany. For comparison: In the much more powerful and economically stronger neighboring country USA it was only half as long in February.
But that’s not all: Scholz has brought in reinforcements for this trip. Vice Chancellor and Economics Minister Robert Habeck (Greens) flew with him to Montreal, the first of three stops on the journey. The two had only been together once before, in May at a North Sea summit in Denmark. In addition, Scholz will be accompanied for the first time by a larger business delegation, led by Industry President Siegfried Rußwurm. The dozen top managers include the CEOs of Volkswagen, Bayer, Siemens Energy and Uniper. In total, more than 80 passengers fly in the government aircraft.
What is all the effort for?
– Natural resources: Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine is forcing Germany to position itself more broadly in its economic relations. This applies acutely to the energy sector, where one wants to become independent of Russian gas supplies. Canada has LPG. However, Germany can only benefit from this in the medium term because there are still no pipelines and terminals for transport across the Atlantic. The focus of the trip is therefore on hydrogen production. In addition, German industry is interested in Canadian minerals and metals, including cobalt, nickel, lithium and graphite, which are important for battery production.
Alliance of Democrats
After his arrival, Scholz summed up the appeal that Canada held for him in one sentence: “The country has similarly rich natural resources as Russia – with the difference that it is a reliable democracy.” So actually the perfect partner for a way out of our dependence on Russia for raw materials. “We not only share common values, but also a similar view of the world.”
Scholz has made it his mission to strengthen cooperation between democracies in order to be able to compete with autocracies such as China and Russia. That’s why he has Japan ahead of the economic for Germany more important China – unlike his predecessors Gerhard Schröder (SPD) and Angela Merkel (CDU). And he makes his first visit to Canada after a good eight months. Merkel let seven years pass.
Good relationship with Trudeau
In any case, Scholz gets on really well with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. The 50-year-old has already visited him in Berlin, the two also met at the G7 summit in Elmau and at the NATO summit in Madrid. Now Trudeau will hardly leave the Chancellor’s side. In Montreal, where he has his constituency, the two began talking. On Tuesday we continue to the economic metropolis of Toronto and finally to remote Stephenville, a small town in sparsely populated Newfoundland.
From there, Chancellor and Prime Minister want to take something tangible with them: an agreement on cooperation in the production and transport of green hydrogen, which is produced using renewable energies and plays a central role in the energy transition. No greenhouse gases are produced when using hydrogen. However, to produce it, water has to be split into hydrogen and oxygen, which requires a great deal of energy. This electrolysis is only climate-friendly if sustainably produced energy is used, for example electricity from the sun or wind.
Wind is plentiful in Newfoundland and there is ample space to convert it to energy with wind farms. An almost perfect place for the production of green hydrogen, which can then serve as the basis for fuels to replace coal, oil and natural gas in industry and transport, for example.
But there are still no transport options for hydrogen either. Terminals are to be built in Canada by 2025. The visit of the top duo Scholz/Habeck will not help Germany through the energy crisis in the short term. It’s about a long-term commitment. “The focus of the trip is of course on an energy partnership for the future,” Habeck said after arriving in Montreal on ZDF’s “Morgenmagazin”.