German politicians divided as last nuclear plants shut down – DW – 04/16/2023

German politicians divided as last nuclear plants shut down – DW – 04/16/2023

Germany’s last three nuclear power plants — Isar 2 in Bavaria, Emsland in Lower Saxony and Neckarwestheim 2 in Baden-Württemberg — stopped operating on Saturday after six decades in operation, according to the energy companies that operate the reactors.

hours before Closure of the three remaining nuclear power plants in GermanyMany left- and center-left lawmakers and environmental activists applauded the move, while pro-business and conservative politicians warned that the risk to the country’s energy security remained.

The shutdown of the nuclear plants has been delayed for several months due to the energy crisis triggered by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February last year.

What do German politicians think?

Ricarda Lang, chair of the Parliamentary Climate Friendly Greens group, wrote on Twitter that the end of nuclear power “marks a definitive entry into an era of renewable energies” that would allow current generations to “finally leave our children with a clear conscience.”

Her party tweeted that Germany already generates about half of its electricity from renewable sources and “we want to break 80% by 2030”.

Greens said affordable renewable energies “will secure energy supplies, protect the climate, make Germany independent of authoritarian rulers, and lay the foundation for a strong economy and good jobs.”

Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s centre-left Social Democratic Party (SPD) parliamentary group tweeted: “Goodbye nuclear energy! Goodbye unsafe, unclean and uneconomical energy policy!”

A separate tweet showed an image of a cooling tower of the collapsed nuclear power plant.

On the other hand, the business-focused Free Democratic Party (FDP) parliamentary group, which is in coalition with the Social Democrats and the Greens, made it clear on Twitter that it was not happy with the exit.

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Party leader Christian Lindner, Germany’s finance minister, wrote on Twitter that while the future is renewable energy, “in the meantime, we have to secure our supplies until we have sufficient capacity.”

If it were up to him, Lindner said, Germany would keep its last three power plants in reserve.

Right-wing parties describe Germany as a ‘black day’

Opposition conservative politicians were also disappointed, including Markus Söder, premier of the southern state of Bavaria, who told Focus Online on Thursday he wanted the factories to stay online and three more “in reserve”.

Soder accused the coalition government’s decision of being “purely ideological”, adding that it was “a huge mistake to get out of nuclear power at this time”.

His party, the Christian Social Union (CSU), tweeted about a “black day for citizens, industry protection and climate in Germany” as a result of the lockdown.

The head of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) Frederik Merz insisted on Friday that the last three nuclear plants are “the safest in the world”.

“No other country reacts to the Ukraine war and the worsening energy supply situation like Germany,” Merz told the NDR public channel.

Business leaders including Peter Adrian, president of the Federation of German Chambers of Commerce and Industry (DIHK), have called on the government to “expand and not restrict energy supplies further” in light of potential shortages and price hikes.

Greenpeace organized celebrations in Berlin and Munich to mark the nuclear transitionPhoto: Nadia Wallben/Reuters

Greenpeace seeks answers on nuclear waste disposal

Before the shutdown, Martin Kaiser, managing director of Greenpeace Germany, urged ministers to ensure the safe disposal of the accumulated nuclear waste, which he said would remain radioactive for millions of years.

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Greenpeace organized celebratory ceremonies at Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate and in the southern city of Munich to celebrate the end of nuclear power.

How was Germany’s nuclear exit revealed?

The closure of Germany’s nuclear reactors was agreed to more than a decade ago by then-Chancellor Angela Merkel, fueled by the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan and the 1986 Chernobyl accident in Ukraine.

Photo: Heiko Becker/Reuters

But the planned closure of the remaining three stations in December 2022 was Pause Because of the energy crisis last winter, gas and electricity prices in Europe skyrocketed after Russia invaded Ukraine.

The deadline to close factories has been pushed back to April 15.

The decision ran counter to plans from before many other countriessuch as the United States, China, France and Britain We depend on nuclear energy To replace the fossil fuels that heat the planet. until Japan backtracked on its plans to phase out nuclear energy.

Nuclear power advocates argue that it produces far fewer greenhouse gas emissions and is used to help Germany achieve its goal of being carbon neutral by 2045.

“By phasing out nuclear power, Germany is sticking to coal and gas because there isn’t always enough wind or sunshine,” said Rainer Klott, president of the pro-nuclear nonprofit Nucleria.

The German government has acknowledged that in the short term, the country will have to rely more heavily on polluting coal and gas to meet its energy needs, even as it continues to invest in renewables.

But Economics Minister Robert Habeck insisted that energy supplies would remain secure even after the last nuclear plant shut down.

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Meanwhile, two-thirds of Germans favor extending the life of nuclear reactors or connecting older plants to the grid, with only 28% supporting phasing out, a survey by the Opportunity Institute earlier this week showed.

“I think this is certainly fueled largely by the fear that the supply situation is simply not secure,” Forsa analyst Peter Matuszek told Reuters news agency.

kb, mm / sms (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)

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