A divided country needs a joint mission

The Washington Post about the German energy transition plans:

The environment has always been a crucial issue in German politics. When the Ukrainian nuclear power plant Chernobyl caused fear and panic throughout Europe after its meltdown in 1986, the Berlin Wall was still standing. Soon after, a united Germany evolved as a world leader both in climate politics as well as in the development of technological solutions.

After the 2011 nuclear disaster in Fukushima, Japan, German Chancellor Angela Merkel — who grew up in the east — reversed her previous stance and announced a surprising and possibly groundbreaking goal: Germany would strive to become the first industrialized country to abolish both coal and nuclear power as energy sources. Renewable energy sources are to fill the void. Succeeding would likely be impossible if reunification had not happened. The east — highly dependent on coal in communist times — now produces 30 percent of its electricity using renewable energy, one-third more than western Germany does.

Wolfgang Gründinger, born in Germany’s southern state of Bavaria, is the spokesperson for the Foundation for the Rights of Future Generations. This year, Germany for the first time generated more energy from renewables than any other source, including coal and nuclear power plants. The project is expensive, which has increased electricity prices, particularly in the east. Despite that, Gründinger considers the rise of renewable energy projects the country’s first successful joint east-west project:

„No matter whether one is east or west German, the overwhelming majority of us share the opinion that we need to transform our energy supplies from fossil and nuclear to renewable and sustainable sources to stop climate change and prevent a nuclear catastrophe.

In East Germany, renewable energies not only created jobs and economic perspectives in otherwise underdeveloped regions, but – and probably more important – restored the tarnished self-confidence of the east Germans.“