Spaniards have been told to take off their ties at work to cool down rather than relying on air con as Europe struggled to get to grips with its energy crisis today.
Pedro Sanchez, appearing tie-less in front of reporters at Moncloa Palace in Madrid, said he has encouraged all public officials to ditch the neck-wear ahead of an announcement of more energy-saving measures on Monday.
‘I’d like you to note that I am not wearing a tie. That means that we can all make savings from an energy point of view,’ he said.
EU states are desperately trying to find ways to cut their energy use before winter arrives, after Russia began throttling gas supplies to the continent.
Germany has already begun turning off street lights in Berlin while Hanover will shut off hot water in public buildings. Oktoberfest and Christmas markets also face being scrapped, politicians have admitted, and breweries could be closed.
In Austria, the city of Linz has stopped lighting historic landmarks at night while Salzburg is drawing up plans to follow suit.
Europe is facing an acute energy crisis as Putin weaponises energy supplies in apparent retaliation for leaders defying him over Ukraine.
The continent typically gets around 40 per cent of the gas it uses from Russia, but is now facing the reality of a winter without it or with very restricted supplies.
Germany will be the worst-hit because it is overly-reliant on Russia – getting more than half of the supplies it used in a typical year piped in direct from Moscow.
And, unlike other EU countries, it does not have ports capable of getting gas shipped in from elsewhere. It is building two, but they won’t be ready until the New Year.
In order to avert shortages, it is restarting mothballed coal-fired plants and is looking to extend the life-spans of its three remaining nuclear plants which were due to be taken out of service at the end of the year.
Similar moves are underway in Belgium, where talks are ongoing between the government at a French contractor which runs two nuclear plants to extend their lifetimes by another ten years.
However, the firm has said the plants cannot come back online until 2026 at the earliest – far too late to help in the coming crisis.
In France itself, which has one of the biggest and most-advanced collections of nuclear power plants anywhere in the world, there are also problems.
Half its reactors are currently offline because of an unexpected problem with their cooling systems, and there is no set date for them to be powered back up.
In the meantime, EDF – the firm which runs them – is being forced to run up huge debts buying energy from elsewhere in Europe to bridge the gap.