By Tim Pearce
International climate activist Al Gore says Germany must further push its domestic energy markets to embrace green energy or risk getting “left behind,” Politico reports.
Within the last decade, Germany has pursued an aggressive strategy to transition its energy grid away from fossil fuels and toward renewable sources such as solar and wind. German politicians have used subsidies to encourage new investment and regulations to cut down on emissions, Fortune Magazine reports.
“Germany was a model for the rest of the world and a narrative took hold here in Germany that might be summarized as ‘Germany leads and everyone follows,’” former-Vice President Gore told Politco in an interview. “But that narrative is now out of date.”
The German people have funded the green revolution through taxes and a surcharge on energy bills that caused the average German’s energy costs to skyrocket more than 50 percent from 2006 to 2016.
“For us it’s a very good business, but for the German people it’s very bad,” German farmer and entrepreneur Dieter Dürrmeier told Fortune for a March 2017 article. Dürrmeier is enrolled in a government program that pays his family about $42,000 annually to produce solar energy from panels attached to the roof of his barns and house.
The aggressive national policy is pricing natural gas and nuclear energy plants out of markets. Plants are shuttering in towns where energy production is a major segment of the economy, Fortune reports.
German politicians are also phasing out nuclear energy because of fears of another Fukushima disaster. In 2011, a tsunami hit the Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan, causing a nuclear meltdown in three reactor cores. Fears spread that nuclear fallout and radiation could kill thousands, though no cases of sickness or death related to radiation have been recorded.
Pushing out carbon-neutral nuclear plants have put more reliance on German coal plants to burn increasing amounts of cheap lignite coal, which is plentiful in Germany. Germany produced 40 percent of its energy from coal in 2016, Fortune reports.
“Germany is in danger of being left behind as more aggressive EU governments seize the lead,” Gore told Politico. “The competitive advantages and job creation advantages of the sustainability revolution put Germany at risk of being left behind. Of course, the subsidies for coal in Germany are enormous.”
Germany’s renewable energy campaign has taken root in other countries in Europe and in China. German investment and production of green energy technology has lowered the costs for other countries looking to cut back on carbon emissions and take up more renewable sources into their energy grids.
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