Some of the consequences of climate change are occurring in Germany now. The level of the Rhine River is so low that river shipping is impossible many days.
The water sources for the Rhine are not only rainfall, but vast reserves of water from lakes and glaciers. Those reserves are declining rapidly with the melting of glaciers, decreasing lake levels, and diminished rainfall.
In 2017, 186 million tonnes of goods were transported between Basel in Switzerland and the German-Dutch border — amounting to around half of European river shipping, according to the Strasbourg-based Central Commission for Navigation on the Rhine.Germany’s iconic Rhine river is at a record low bringing businesses and boats to a standstill. News Corp Australia Network OCTOBER 24, 2018
But since the dry spell began, industrial giant Thyssenkrupp has had to cut back production at its Duisburg plant “because a sufficient supply of raw material cannot be assured”, a company spokesman said.
One of the longest dry spells on record has left parts of the Rhine at record-low levels for months, forcing freighters to reduce their cargo or stop plying the river altogether.
Parts of the Danube and the Elbe — Germany’s other major rivers for transport — are also drying up. Some inland ports are idle, and it is estimated that millions of tons of goods are having to be transported by rail or road.
An exceptionally dry summer has caused havoc across Europe. A trade group in Germany put farmers’ losses at several billion dollars. The German chemical giant BASF had to decrease production at one of its plants over the summer because the Rhine, whose water it uses to cool production, was too low.The Rhine, a Lifeline of Germany, Is Crippled by Drought. By Christopher F. Schuetze
The New York Times, Nov. 4, 2018
Although much of what was transported by river barges can be carried overland using trains and trucks, more expensively, some large pieces, such as components for wind turbines, cannot. That has stopped construction of the wind farm at Mannheim.
Germany’s industrial southwest, Switzerland and parts of France face a dearth of fuel supplies in the coming weeks just as freezing temperatures threaten to lift demand for heating oil.Rhine Drought Threatens Oil Supply as Cold Snap Hits Germany by Vanessa Dezem and Brian Parkin, Bloomberg, November 21, 2018
A prolonged drought this summer has led to record-low water levels on the Rhine river, closing many parts of the key transport artery to barge traffic. With little relief in sight, the German government is seeking to loosen rules on fuel transports by road to prevent shortages. The logistics bottleneck led to production halts at Covestro AG, contributing to a profit shortfall at the German plastics maker and sending the shares tumbling on Tuesday.
The situation in Switzerland, which relies on Europe’s busiest waterway for two-thirds of its diesel supplies and a quarter of its gasoline deliveries, has become “tense,” according to the nation’s EV-UP oil federation.Rhine Drought Threatens Oil Supply as Cold Snap Hits Germany by Vanessa Dezem and Brian Parkin, Bloomberg, November 21, 2018
“We’re watching developments closely,” David Suchet, the Zurich-based group’s spokesman, said Tuesday. Switzerland can draw on refinery and rail supplies and like Germany released a portion of its strategic reserves in October. “November is a pretty dry month, so we don’t expect the situation to ease soon.”