This past weekend around 50 000 people from around Germany protested in Berlin against nuclear energy. The demonstrators protested against threats from the current right wing government to extend a deadline for the country’s 17 nuclear reactors.
“In Berlin an estimated 50,000 people have joined a demonstration against nuclear power in the run-up to the German general elections.
The rally was headed by a convoy of 350 tractors, which drove past the office of Chancellor Angela Merkel,” Radio Netherlands Worldwide reports.
Back in 2001 the former Social Democratic chancellor, backed up by the Greens, pushed through a new legislation in 2001 that would phase out nuclear energy from Germany within two decades. But the Social Democratic and Green government lost the election in 2005 to a right-wing coalition consisting of the current Chancellor Angela Merkel’s center-right Christian Democrats and the liberal Free Democrats.
Angela Merkel, who successfully blocked a strong climate deal for the European Union last year, now wants to scrap the nuclear phase-out legislation that the SPD pushed through in 2001. This is similar to what is happening in Sweden after a coalition of right-wing parties won the recent election there. According to Merkel, Germany “cannot phase out nuclear energy as quickly as some imagine.”
“But in the long term, that’s to say in the second half of the century, we will experience a large amount of renewable energy sources. We are convinced that we will be able to stop using nuclear energy at some point”, Merkel said.
The Social Democratic chancellor candidate, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, is accusing Angela Merkel’s center-right Christian Democrats and the liberal Free Democrats “of leading the country into an energy policy dead-end and endangering domestic security.”
On the same day as the anti-nuclear protest in Germany were taking place Greenpeace released a survey which found that 59% of Germans are against Merkel’s proposal to extend the deadline for the country’s already aging nuclear reactors.
“Our responsibility is to phase out power plants that endanger the health and livelihoods of future generations, said Greenpeace Finland’s nuclear campaigner, Lauri Myllyvirta at a speech the Brandenburg Gate.
“Each year nuclear power plants are kept running means more nuclear waste, more uranium mining, higher risk of accidents. There is no excuse: Climate change can be best tackled without nuclear plants. The nuclear phase-out in Germany is one of the reasons for the success of wind and solar energy all over the world. A relapse into nuclear power in Germany would send a very bad signal to other countries.”
Nils Diedrich, a political scientist at Berlin’s Free University, says that if Merkel and her right wing coalition manage to push through this pro-nuclear legislation “we’ll see a real battle”. He warns that “then there will be massive demonstrations.”
Although Germany is one of the leading countries in renewable wind energy it still has a dirty and toxic energy portfolio. 42% of the country’s energy comes from coal and 23% from nuclear energy. Only about 15% of the energy comes from clean renewable energy sources such as wind and solar.
Images from the Gruene.de
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