Wednesday, July 20, 2022

Europe's mightiest river is drying up amid a record heatwave, causing shipping issues and deepening the continent's energy woes


An example of how climate disruption is contributing to inflation, in this case by increasing shipment costs and reducing supplies.


The River Rhine, one of Europe's most important rivers which is used to transport cargo including chemicals, grains, and coal across the continent, is drying up amid record-breaking summer heatwaves.

Germany's Federal Institute of Hydrology has warned that rivers in Central Europe are at "unusually low" levels and are continuing to fall.


Southwest Germany news outlet SWR reported that the low level of water is limiting shipping on the Rhine south of Duisburg and Cologne and that for days, freight ships haven't been able to travel fully-loaded.

A representative for Germany's Federal Institute of Hydrology told Bloomberg that if the level at Kaub dips down to 40 centimeters (15.7 inches), it's uneconomical for vessels carrying commodities to sail past it given how little cargo they'd be able to carry.

The low water levels already impacting energy supplies. The supply of coal to two power stations in Germany – one in Mannheim and another in Karlsruhe – has been "affected" by low water levels in the Rhine since July 13, according to the EEX exchange.


 Low water levels on the Rhine having an economic impact has not been uncommon in recent years, with a lack of water in the river attributed in 2019 to causing a short-lived recession in Germany at the tail end of 2018.

Pantheon Macroeconomics said in January 2019 that low river levels effectively amount to a "supply shock in German manufacturing," by lowering the availability of key goods needed for the sector.

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