Substitute for Russian raw materials: Scholz and Habeck on a treasure hunt in Canada

Canada is rich in mineral resources.

Substitute for Russian raw materials: Scholz and Habeck on a treasure hunt in Canada

Canada is rich in mineral resources. The three-day visit to the second largest country in the world is therefore particularly important for Chancellor Scholz. With the support of Vice Chancellor Habeck, he therefore wants to significantly expand cooperation in the development of raw materials.

Chancellor Olaf Scholz has introduced himself to about two dozen countries on four continents 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. He takes three days to visit the second largest country in the world in terms of area, but which has not even half as many inhabitants as Germany. For comparison: In February, he was only half as long for his inaugural visit in the much more powerful and economically stronger neighboring country USA.

But that's not all: Scholz has brought in reinforcements for this trip. Vice Chancellor and Economics Minister Robert Habeck from the Greens flew with him to Montreal on Sunday evening, the first of three travel stops. 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 and made up of a dozen top managers, including the CEOs of Volkswagen, Bayer, Siemens Energy and Uniper. A total of more than 80 passengers flew in the government aircraft.

But what is Scholz and Habeck doing all the effort for? There are economic and political reasons for this: Russia's war of aggression against Ukraine is forcing Germany to broaden its economic relations. This applies very acutely to the energy sector, in which one wants to become independent of Russian gas supplies. "The country has similar rich natural resources as Russia - with the difference that it is a reliable democracy," said Scholz on Sunday evening (local time) after his arrival in Montreal. "This opens up new fields of cooperation. We want to work closely together, especially when it comes to setting up a hydrogen economy."

Although Canada has liquid gas to offer, 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.

In principle, Canada has what Russia has to offer economically - and that as a reliable democracy. That's the second reason why this trip means so much to Scholz. The chancellor has taken up the cause of strengthening cooperation between democracies in order to be able to compete with autocracies such as China and Russia. That's why he demonstratively visited Japan before China, which is economically more important for Germany - unlike his predecessors.

The trip also shows that transatlantic relations are more than just a good connection to the USA. Canada is also an important partner in the G7 of economically strong democracies and in NATO. In any case, Scholz seems to get along really well with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. The 50-year-old has already visited him in Berlin, and the two also met at the G7 summit in Elmau and at the NATO summit in Madrid. During the visit, Trudeau will hardly leave the Chancellor's side.

Economics Minister Robert Habeck has contradicted the assumption that Germany cannot find enough liquid gas on the world market. The problem in Germany is the lack of infrastructure to use liquefied natural gas (LNG) as an alternative to Russian gas, Habeck said in the ZDF interview. Therefore, LNG loading terminals would be built on the German coast. "But for these there is gas." The companies would have bought enough gas on the world market. "Where does our gas come from is not the question at all. But how does the gas get into the country," he added.

"Of course we still have a very critical winter ahead of us," emphasized the Green politician at the same time. Full gas storage creates more security, but Russia can further reduce its deliveries. That is why it takes a lot of effort to save 20 percent in gas consumption so that there is no gas crisis. An ordinance that provides for energy saving requirements for public buildings and shop windows from September 1 should help with this. This was "on the last meters," said Habeck.

Scholz emphasized that Germany has hardly any other country outside the European Union that has such close and friendly ties as Canada. "Not only do we share common values, we also share a similar view of the world," he said. In Montreal, where Trudeau has his constituency, the Canadian Prime Minister will hold his political talks with Scholz this Monday. 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 home with them: an agreement on cooperation in the production and transport of green hydrogen, which is produced using renewable energies. In the long term, Canada expects to be able to export 25 to 30 million tons of green hydrogen per year. However, transport capacities still have to be created here.