This past weekend around 50 000 people from around Germany protested in Berlin against nuclear energy. The demonstrators protested against threats from the current right wing government to extend a deadline for the countryâ€™s 17 nuclear reactors.
Back in 2001 the former Social Democratic chancellor, backed up by the Greens, pushed through a new legislation in 2001 that would phase out nuclear energy from Germany within two decades. But the Social Democratic and Green government lost the election in 2005 to a right-wing coalition consisting of the current Chancellor Angela Merkel's center-right Christian Democrats and the liberal Free Democrats.
Angela Merkel, who successfully blocked a strong climate deal for the European Union last year, now wants to scrap the nuclear phase-out legislation that the SPD pushed through in 2001. This is similar to what is happening in Sweden after a coalition of right-wing parties won the recent election there. According to Merkel, Germany â€œcannot phase out nuclear energy as quickly as some imagine.â€
The Social Democratic chancellor candidate, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, is accusing Angela Merkel's center-right Christian Democrats and the liberal Free Democrats "of leading the country into an energy policy dead-end and endangering domestic security."
On the same day as the anti-nuclear protest in Germany were taking place Greenpeace released a survey which found that 59% of Germans are against Merkel's proposal to extend the deadline for the countryâ€™s already aging nuclear reactors.
Nils Diedrich, a political scientist at Berlin's Free University, says that if Merkel and her right wing coalition manage to push through this pro-nuclear legislation â€œwe'll see a real battleâ€. He warns that â€œthen there will be massive demonstrations."
Although Germany is one of the leading countries in renewable wind energy it still has a dirty and toxic energy portfolio. 42% of the countryâ€™s energy comes from coal and 23% from nuclear energy. Only about 15% of the energy comes from clean renewable energy sources such as wind and solar.
Images from the Gruene.de