Why good will in environmental policy is not enough

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Eveline Kroll sits in the community center of Bliesendorf and bends over a map on which a large area ausschraffiert is. This is a forest, which the mayor knows as the back of her hand. It tells of pines, oaks and an arch dune.

A company from nearby Potsdam looks at the area very differently. For the wind farm operator Notus, it is "wind conditions area 24", with a good location and best air flow. He wants to set up 18 wind turbines there, a dozen of them one and a half times as high as Cologne Cathedral. "These are industrial plants that do not belong in the forest," says Kroll. Although the wind turbines are only near the forest and on a highway, but still.

Round cheeks, short hairstyle and mischievous smile, Mrs. Kroll is anything but scary. But she teaches the company Notus the fear. For 27 years she lives in Bliesendorf, a pretty little town in Brandenburg, takes care of the welfare of the inhabitants on a voluntary basis. In their opinion, this does not include wind turbines.

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Together with the forest clover-club and the citizens' initiative Bliesendorf she fights against Notus. The decision with the approval authorities has not yet been made. In a first step, the forestry authority involved in the proceedings has already rejected 17 of the 18 wind turbine sites requested as unsuitable. But the last word is not spoken yet.

Mrs. Kroll is not a lone fighter. Everywhere in the country people fight against wind turbines, in total there are 1100 citizens' initiatives. In an almost funny contrast are surveys on climate protection. An increasing proportion of the German population is very concerned about climate change. A large majority support the expansion of renewable energies.

It's the old song: we want to protect the environment, but not on our own doorstep. The contradictory mental state of Germany is everywhere. The Greens are gaining more and more votes with their environmental program. At the same time, fuel-guzzling SUVs are becoming more popular, the number of air travel is on the rise, and housing requirements are rising and rising. All pleasant things, but they cause greenhouse gas emissions.

The contradictions extend to the highest level of government. Angela Merkel was once considered the Greta Thunberg of politics. As Minister of the Environment, she stood in 1995 at the first climate summit in Berlin, as Chancellor raised climate protection on the political agenda and set ambitious reduction targets – but then let the implementation grind.

The former model student Germany slipped to 17th place on the latest Energiewende ranking of the World Economic Forum, behind countries such as Portugal or Uruguay. "If emission reductions continue at the same pace as in the past decade, the CO2 targets for 2020 will only be reached eight years later, and the targets for 2030 will not be until 2046," warns Thomas Vahlenkamp, ​​Senior Partner at McKinsey.

Greta Thunberg in Berlin

The young generation is putting pressure.

(Photo: imago images / ZUMA Press)

Merkel's environmental policy was not rational enough. Instead of making climate change greenhouse gases, such as CO2, more expensive and thus reducing them with taxes, levies or certificates trading, the German government focused on electricity generation with the energy turnaround.

Other important greenhouse gas emitters such as traffic or buildings have been left out. "As one of the leading economies and technology nations, Germany can play a leading role in drawing up an overall plan," warns Christian Mumenthaler, CEO of the reinsurance group Swiss Re.

The results of the well-meaning energy transition are almost tragic. While supposed climate offenders such as the US pragmatically replaced their coal-fired power plants with natural gas, reducing CO2 emissions, Germany dealt with unreliable electricity production from solar and wind.

If the sun is not shining or blowing little wind, we switch on our dirty coal-fired power plants. It takes revenge on Merkel's panicking decision in retrospect, to shut down all nuclear power plants – while they continue in part in the disaster country of Japan. The energy transition is based on emotions and has cost many hundreds of billions of euros. The socially weak sections of society bear a heavy burden, and the high electricity prices hit them much harder than the better-paid.

At the end of her chancellorship, Merkel will be clear about her earlier mistakes. On the streets the pupils demonstrate, in the forest the trees die before Wassernot. In a few days, she convenes the Climate Cabinet, which she calls, and will take measures to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases, costing an estimated 50 to 60 billion euros.

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The problem could be: the Cabinet decides many individual measures, such as the elimination of oil heating or a reduction in VAT on train tickets that sound good – but only partially effective. Only pricing greenhouse gases like C02 lowers their emissions in an efficient and cost effective way.

Not an easy decision, it makes the petrol for cars or travel by plane more expensive – which does not go down well with the voters. To all politicians, the demonstrations and riots of the yellow vests in France are all too present after the increase in gasoline prices.

So the federal government takes high risks if it wants to bravely move forward in climate protection. If she's serious, it could hurt anyone. On Friday next week, as much as is clear, Chancellor Merkel will meet with the ministers concerned at 10 am in the Federal Chancellery to discuss historical issues: a package on climate protection as the basis for Germany's first climate protection law. A necessary and overdue law.

(t) Tags (t) Agenda (t) Weekend Special (t) Climate Change (t) Temperature Increase (t) Environmental Protection (t) Environmental Impact Climate (t) Environmental Policy (t) Environmental Management (t) SPD (t) the Greens (t) McKinsey (t) GdW (t) Swiss Re (t) Foundation 2 degrees (t) Otto von Guericke University (t) Federal Network Agency (t) BDI (t) Feinkost Käfer (t) CDU (t) Schloss Elmau (t) Angela Merkel (t) Joachim Weimann (t) Axel Gedaschko (t) Christian Mumenthaler (t) Lukas Siebenkotten (t) Michael Groschek

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