Unpleasant encounter with hard facts
Guest opinion by Fred F. Mueller
Until just a few days ago, the determination of the German government to halt the presumed Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming (CAGW) seemed to be absolutely imperturbable. The main driver behind the German resolve to hammer down CO2 emissions both domestically and abroad while at the same time finishing off its last remaining nuclear power generating units is Chancellor Angela Merkel. The daughter of a clergyman socialized in the formerly communist east of the country, she is known for her outstanding political cleverness and flexibility in avoiding conflicts she feels she can’t win. Nevertheless, there are certain aspects where this cleverness is superseded by an almost fundamentalist doggedness when it comes to certain key points – such as exterminating nuclear power or saving the planet from overheating.
Only a few weeks ago, Germany engaged in a new initiative to revitalize the ailing international effort to reverse the course of constantly increasing worldwide CO2 emissions by replacing the vintage Kyoto protocol by more stringent and binding reduction targets at the UN conference that will be held in Paris in November/ December 2015. To this effect, Germany convinced the other European Union states to agree to a 40 % reduction scheme by 2030, sweeping across opposition from negatively affected member countries using a combination of compromises, financial incentives and sheer politico-economic pressure. As a result, the EU came out with bold CO2 reduction commitments. These in turn were meant to be used as a political lever during the preparatory meetings taking place in the current run-up to the big show.
The push for increased CO2 sobriety…
In order to underscore its ambition to shine out as a beacon of climate saving efforts, the German government additionally decided to further strengthen its position by renewing domestic efforts aimed at achieving its own commitment of reducing national CO2 emissions by 40 % (compared to 1990) until 2020. This target had at first seemed to be easily attainable since the country benefitted from the opportunity to decommission the ridiculously inefficient and energy-squandering industry it inherited from the former communist DDR. But in the past years, this special effect waned and the CO2 emissions even reversed course and climbed again. This countertrend was further underpinned when in the wake of the Fukushima events; the German government ordered to halt eight out of 17 existing nuclear power plants and decided to phase out the remaining ones by 2022. The share of nuclear power was largely taken over by lignite- and coal-fired units, with the result that in the field of power generation, Germany was unable to achieve any reduction since 2000. During the same time period, the electric power markets were flooded with heavily subsidized “green” power, causing prices to collapse to a point where conventional power utilities were unable to generate sufficient revenues. Share prices collapsed and more than ten thousand qualified jobs disappeared. In the centers of political power in Berlin, the grievances of the sector went unnoticed and even the most urgent submissions fell on deaf ears. To add insult to injury, just a few weeks ago, the sector was confronted with tough additional regulations requiring it to further reduce its CO2 emissions, while signs of mounting albeit muted unease in a growing number of industrial sectors heavily burdened by skyrocketing energy prices were ignored. Continue reading The unsinkable German anti-CO2-Titanic just found its iceberg