Germany was once considered the leader in the push towards renewable energy, but as the country is expected to miss emissions targets set both nationally and across the EU, climate activists are beginning to turn their backs to the once championed country.
While the story may look disappointing on the surface, perhaps Germany has been playing a carefully crafted strategy that will prove once again that it can lead the way to a cleaner planet.
Much of the recent criticisms came after news broke that Germany had already exceeded its entire 2018 emissions targets within the first quarter of the year. For a country that has made ambitious moves towards solar and wind energy in recent years, the news is seen as an embarrassment.
Despite its renewable energy efforts, the clean energy currently sits in second place with 33.3 percent of Germany’s gross power production behind coal’s 36.6 percent. Though according to Handelsblatt, a leading newspaper in Germany, the country’s lack of speed in reducing coal power comes not from commitment issues but is instead a “pragmatic sense of responsibility that the inevitable phase-out must not cause economic shocks or disrupt power supply.”
In other words, Germany is being smart about the changes its energy moves make on a larger level, looking beyond just the environmental impact.
After a 2011 earthquake in Japan lead to the meltdown of three nuclear reactors at its Fukushima power plant, German Chancellor Angela Merkel made a bold move to shut down Germany’s entire fleet of nuclear power plants by 2022.
To date, more than half of Germany’s nuclear power facilities have been shut down since Merkel declared an end to the energy source, and in 2017 it only supplied 11.7 percent of the country’s power. While it may not be a source of harmful carbon dioxide emissions, cutting nuclear is a preventative measure that could save both the environment and human lives.
Germany came out strong with its climate impact goals and set some unrealistic numbers for it to meet, but the country is looking at more than just the numbers. It is clear that Germany is still heavily committed to doing its part to cut back on harmful emissions and energy consumption, but it may take a little longer before the fruits of its labors are fully realized.