Satoshi Ikeuchi, Professor, Religion and Global Security, University of Tokyo
Countries are trying to get rid of COVID-19 restrictions, as soon as possible, all over the world. Some swiftly like countries in the Gulf and the Middle East, which have thick strata of young generations, some other more cautiously, like in Japan, which have majority of aged people. Lockdowns and restrictions have damaged economies heavily and people need recovery. Human beings are not able to live locked down indefinitely. People want opening up their life back to normal. Heavily indebted governments cannot sustain populations indefinitely with subsidies.
The world is, however, unlikely to be filled with joy celebrating liberation this winter.
Fear of energy crisis in major economies like UK, Europe, India, and China weighs heavily. Hyperinflation of food, and shortage in semiconductors may hinder the progress of globalization which was not hindered even by the pandemic.
The global shortages and soaring costs of gas and oil in this winter may disrupt the global race to the net-zero carbon emissions which have been busily pledged and unveiled.
Preventing climate change is the common goal agreed on among most of the countries. The way toward that goal is not prescribed yet and human being has not been freed from scarcity of energy.
The coming winter may become the moment of truth, being faced with the reality of human beings that we cannot sustain our lives without the use of moderately priced oil and gas which is abundantly provided.
There may be rekindled acceptance of the nuclear-powered generation as a way to reduce carbon emissions avoid further rise of the uses of fossil fuels. It may still possible that huge energy crises and power cuts resuscitate the use of coal among some countries like India and China, although the coal has been recently much talked about as being obsolete and abandoned soon.
Everything is possible to happen in this coming cold winter of scarcity. We might have already known, during the COVID-19 era, how something unexpected is happen and change our entire life in an absolutely unexpected way.
Even though anything can be foretold for sure, oil and gas producers in the Gulf and the Middle East will stand still after the winter, much more consolidating their position as indispensable stabilizers of the world economy.