Europe’s economic powerhouse, Germany, announced plans Monday to abandon nuclear energy over the next 11 years, outlining an ambitious strategy in the wake of Japan’s Fukushima disaster to replace atomic power with renewable energy sources.
Chancellor Angela Merkel said she hopes the transformation to more solar, wind and hydroelectric power serves as a roadmap for other countries.
“We believe that we can show those countries who decide to abandon nuclear power – or not to start using it – how it is possible to achieve growth, creating jobs and economic prosperity while shifting the energy supply toward renewable energies,” Merkel said.
All power plants will by switched off by 2022. Sounds familiar? Germany is not only quitting nuclear power, but it’s quitting for the second time. This shows you how much we Germans fear radiation. It’s a fear that has become deeply embedded in the psyche of the country. Since Fukushima, one can see on walls, doors, backpacks, bikes and everywhere else the logo of the anti-nuclear movement from the 1970s. A smiling sun saying, “Atomkraft? Nein danke“ has returned. People have put up the logo on their Facebook profiles, thousands have marched on the streets and the Greens, who grew out of the original anti-nuclear movement, have become stronger than ever. They could even provide the next chancellor. Suddenly everybody is against nuclear power, and Merkel is leading the movement. She’s no Iron Lady, but rather a chameleon. No wonder the Greens are angry she stole their clothes.
The decision to quit nuclear energy is politically correct, but is it economically sustainable and environmentally brave? Nobody is celebrating yet, because many questions remain.
We’ll see how it unfolds.