Although wholesale prices of natural gas and electricity in Europe have declined sharply from the unprecedented levels they reached last year, the Europeans are beginning to count the losses of using energy as a weapon in the conflict between the West and Russia as a result of the war in Ukraine, and even though Moscow cut off some natural gas supplies at the beginning The war in early 2022 was not the only reason for the energy crisis, as Western sanctions included an escalating ban on importing Russian gas and oil, which provided nearly half of Europe’s energy needs. The charge of “using energy weapons” is only attached to Russia.
The Europeans are now calculating the results of the energy crisis that led to a rise in household consumption bills last year, and the cost of the bills did not decrease even though natural gas prices have fallen sharply now, as the effective damage to the Russian energy weapon. The Economist magazine published in its issue this week a report on the impact of high energy prices for homes in 28 European countries in increasing deaths from normal rates in those countries. Energy for household consumption in Europe last winter led to more deaths than the Corona virus.
After the beginning of the war in Ukraine at the end of February (February) last year, some Russian natural gas supplies to European countries that supported Ukraine stopped, then the United States and Europe expanded the scope of unprecedented economic sanctions on Moscow to include a ban on importing Russian oil and natural gas, but with the entry of the season Winter electricity prices for homes rose 69 percent and gas 145 percent.
European countries sought to obtain energy from other sources, especially from the United States, the Middle East and Africa, and this led to a significant drop in natural gas prices in Europe and electricity in the wholesale market, but domestic consumption prices remained much higher than they were before the Ukraine war, especially In countries like Britain.
As a result of the high cost of energy bills for domestic consumption, many families in European countries have been forced to not heat their homes sufficiently, as the cold weather increases the risk of heart disease and respiratory diseases, which can lead to death.
Last November, The Economist magazine published a report predicting that an increase in energy prices for homes could lead to an increase in deaths by between 22,000 and 138,000 people, while an analysis of the data published by the magazine this week proved that its estimates were correct. to a big limit.
Number analysis template
The analysis model relied on traditional indicators in calculating additional deaths, that is, in excess of normal rates at different times of the year and according to the demographic nature of each community. Corona epidemic crisis to calculate the excess deaths as a result of infection with the Corona virus, and the average corresponding period for comparison in the “Economist” analysis model was between 2015 and 2019, and the result was that in the 28 European countries included in the study and analysis, the number of excess deaths reached in the period from November (November) 2022 and February 2023, up to 149,000 people, an increase of 7.9 percent over the comparison period.
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The analysis excluded excess deaths as a result of other causes, for example, the number of excess deaths as a result of infection with the Corona virus during that period reached 60 thousand people, and taking into account that there are cases of deaths from the virus that were not registered, but it cannot include all excess deaths in that period. Especially since the death rate from infection with the virus decreased in European countries last winter to 40 percent, compared to 79 percent between March 2020 and September 2022.
Another factor that has been excluded is the excess deaths as a result of the change in the weather, as it is known that a decrease in temperature by one degree Celsius for a period of three weeks leads to an increase in the death rate by 2.2 percent, and since the last winter was not as cold as the winters witnessed in the period from 2015 Until 2019, extreme cold cannot be the cause of all excess deaths.
Energy price fluctuations
Thus, the result of the analysis is that infection with the Corona virus was responsible for excess deaths last winter, amounting to 59 thousand and 700 people, while other factors were responsible for 21 thousand and 500 deaths in excess of the average in that period, while the rise in energy prices led to additional deaths last winter, which amounted to 68 thousand people.
The report indicates that the intervention of governments in European countries through various support packages to reduce the burden of the cost of energy bills may have contributed to avoiding a greater increase in the number of excess deaths, and according to the analysis, in 23 European countries that supported families in the winter, an increase in the number of excess deaths was avoided by 26 thousand people at least.
European countries witnessed a clear variation in the number of excess deaths as a result of the rise in electricity and gas prices in the past period. The analytical model estimated that an increase in prices by 10 cents corresponds to a rise in the number of excess deaths by 2.2 percent. Thus, we find the number of excess deaths as a result of the rise in energy prices in countries such as Germany and Britain exceeded 40 deaths per 100 thousand population. In France and Spain, the excess mortality rate from high energy prices was less than 20 deaths per 100,000 population.
The discrepancy is due to the extent to which countries were affected by the energy crisis resulting from the war in Ukraine and the amount of support provided by governments to reduce the cost of energy consumption bills for homes. The most common victims were the number of deaths in excess of normal rates.