Germany's New Government Expected to Draft Energy Policy at Environmental and Climate Expense

Observers fear that Germany’s new government will draft an energy policy at the expense of resource and climate protection.

Gerd Rosenkranz, the head of Deutsche Umwelthilfe, an environmental protection group, said he is worried that the new government, a team-up of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Conservatives and the pro-business Free Democrats led by Guido Westerwelle, will undo the green policies of the past years.

Both parties have vowed to give nuclear energy a fresh look and reverse the phase-out agreement drafted in 2000. It foresees all German reactors to be shut down by 2021.

If Merkel and Westerwelle decide to “reverse the nuclear phase-out then this government will reopen a fundamental conflict in Germany and divide the society,” Rosenkranz said in a statement.

He added that renewable energy sources needed to be funded with the same vigor that has been done in previous years. Such a policy would also guarantee economic stability, he said. Thanks to a lucrative feed-in tariff for green power, the German renewable industry has boomed over the past 10 years and is now a world leader.

“If this government does not continue to support environmental protection and future energy technologies consequently enough, then it will kill one of the few hopeful emerging industry sectors,” Rosenkranz said.

He called on Berlin to “fight the effect of the financial and economic crisis in the context of the global climate and resource crisis. … As a consequence, Germany would have enormous new chances because it’s a high-technology economy.”

Another environmental group, the World Wildlife Fund, accused the German government parties of ignoring environmental and climate protection in their recent campaigning.

Conservatives and Free Democrats “have to surprise the people when it comes to climate and environmental protection and go far beyond what they are saying in their campaign programs,” Eberhard Brandes, the head of WWF in Germany, said in a statement.

The environmental group reminded Berlin that it had an international obligation to lead. Germany currently presides over the U.N. Convention on Biological Diversity, a treaty that is aimed at protecting animal and plant species and at promoting the conservation and sustainable use of natural resources.

WWF also wants Berlin to keep in mind resource conservation when helping to draft EU-wide fishing and farming policies, both of which are set to be finalized soon.

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