The debate over gas as a sustainable source of energy has divided the German government

The debate over gas as a sustainable source of energy has divided the German government

The three German ruling parties, with significant ideological differences, continued to talk of “growth together” after their coalition took power. But now the first fission mushroom has appeared from the earth. Will the government, which considers itself a revolution in sustainability, adopt natural gas as a sustainable source of energy?

The reason for the discussion is the European Commission’s proposal to include gas and nuclear energy in the list of green energy subject to certain conditions. This list is for investors who want to invest their money in a sustainable way, and it should lead to more investments in power plants.

In the first place, it’s about money: As for the measures that Germany must also take to emit less carbon dioxide, it doesn’t make much difference between what it calls green and what isn’t. At the same time, the political interests in the game are great.

hard situation

The country will need new natural gas stations in the near future, there is no doubt about that. This is because power generation from other sources is being phased out, while the demand for electricity is increasing. In this sense, Germany put itself in a difficult position.

For example, in an effort to become climate neutral in time, the current government has decided to shut down all coal-fired power plants “if possible” as early as 2030 instead of 2038. In addition, power generation from nuclear power plants may It has been phased out for twenty years.

Nuclear reactors would be extremely dangerous, and the thousands of years of storage required for radioactive waste would not be sustainable. The government is sticking to a moratorium on nuclear power for now, with the last three reactors shutting down this year.

So the Germans have to get their energy elsewhere. The government recently agreed to build more power plants that generate electricity by burning gas. These should be modern power plants that first run temporarily on natural gas and then switch to more environmentally friendly hydrogen gas. It can take some time.

“Green Wash”

The previous German government’s wish was that the European Commission wanted to add natural gas to the list of green energy sources. But the current coalition also includes the Green Party. Although they have also signed on to add temporary natural gas stations, this does not mean that they agree that the European Commission wants to call fossil fuels “green energy”.

The party has defended its supporters with the fact that the Green Party is ruling with the liberal FDP and the SPD, which sometimes diverge from them in terms of content, arguing that it is an opportunity to impose more sustainability. If they don’t respond now, it will be bad for some of those supporters. Environmental groups have already criticized the European Commission’s proposal, calling it “greenwashing”.

Environment Minister Steffi Lemke of the Greens described the proposal as “dubious”. “It wasn’t necessary in my opinion,” she said in an interview with Phoenix TV. “Because we know that in the long run we will also have to do without natural gas or a little natural gas.”


But not everyone in the government feels this way. The SPD has been largely silent, and Lindner has told FDP chair and Finance Minister Süddeutsche Zeitung that he also sees the benefits of the proposal.

By considering modern gas-fired power plants as sustainable under certain conditions, Germany can easily find the largest investors willing to invest billions in plant construction in the coming period. Lindner: “I am grateful that the arguments seem to have been adopted by the committee.”

Critics fear that this will make investors less aware of other sustainable technologies that money will be needed for in the near future, and that the appeal of the European “green label” will decline.

Germany, like other member states, has until January 12 to respond to the European Commission’s proposal. Then it will become clear whether the government is not only speaking out against “sustainable” nuclear power, but whether the Greens have also made a strong case for a German request to remove natural gas from the list.

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