Special Report: German Energy and Climate Policy - A Head Start
I am just back from Berlin, Dessau, and Bonn as a guest of the German government, part of a group of 12 other journalists and writers on an invited "thematic trip" entitled Climate Protection - International Cooperation on Climate and Energy. This is the first installment reporting on my findings from the trip.
More than twenty years ago Germany made the decision to abandon nuclear energy, committing to build no new plants and, through the Nuclear Exit Law, decommissioning all existing nuclear power facilities by 2025 (there are currently 17 plants still in operation generating one quarter of the country's electricity).
Germany saw ahead two distinct paths for its future and chose the one leading away from nuclear and fossil energy, looking instead to renewable energy sources as the sustainable, safe, and secure choice. By the mid-nineties, the need for climate protection through a reduction in carbon emissions was accepted by the public and supported by the full political spectrum of government - long before Al Gore released his movie in the United States.
Germany has a varied, active, and multi-tiered administrative bureaucracy to implement the societal assumption and acceptance that global warming is real and the only sustainable path available is creating a low carbon energy economy.
It is these efforts over the past two decades that have brought Germany to the forefront of climate protection and progressive renewable energy policy.
Germany's efforts are not perfect, they have yet to achieve anywhere near the full scaling of renewable energy as the primary source of power and eliminating the import, extraction, and burning of fossil fuels. But Germany has a head start and stands as a model for other nations of the world to learn from, follow, and adapt to their own particular situation.
In subsequent posts I will review what I discovered in Germany, from meeting with government administrators, industry representatives, and an official from the UNFCC. The week was short and all we could hope for was an overview of total picture, but from it came a glimpse of what is possible.