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Climate Politics of Germany
Among the biggest challenges of the XXI century in the field of environmental policy are changes in the atmosphere and the climate system. Mostly caused by human activities, climate change is a real global problem. These days, it is considered one of the most serious obstacles to the security policy of the XXI century, which requires decisive actions of the worldwide community. Therefore, addressing issues of climate changes should be the main focus of the policy of every country. At the international level, Germany plays an exemplary role in the field of climate and energy policy and intends to implement its ambitious goals to reduce emissions.
Germany perceives itself as a model state in the area of climate and environmental protection. Due to its goals, it came to occupy a leading place in the world. “Germany has played both a politic and economic leadership role in climate change policy”. There is no other similar industrial country with the same ambitious and concretely formulated program concerning the climate protection. The authors Rudiger Wurzel and James Connelly state that “The OECD has characterized Germany as a ‘highly innovative country engaged in several initiatives to draw the maximum benefits and opportunities of globalization to address environmental problems while boosting its environmental industry sector’”. The authors Harriet Bulkeley, Vanessa Broto, and Gareth Edwards mention that “German’s commitment to climate change has materialized in numerous policy and technical interventions”. By 2020, the federal government of the country intends to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40% compared to 1990. In addition, Germany has the aim to expand the use of renewable energy sources consistently and increase its energy efficiency. In such a way, the future goal of the country is to ensure that renewable energy sources have played a major role in its energy supply. In less than 20 years, half of the total electricity generated in Germany will be produced from alternative sources. At the same time, Germany intends to close all nuclear power stations located on its territory in ten years.
From 1994, nature conservation has been fixed as a state objective in the Basic Law. “As amended in 1994, however Article 20a GG established environmental protection as an underlying state principle, thereby obligating all branches of the government to uphold the goal of environmental protection”. Untouched nature, clean air and ponds are prerequisites of the quality of life and the environment in Germany. With regard to the purity of air and water, the environmental indicators show a positive trend, as many releases have been considerably reduced in recent years. In spite of the significantly increased volume of traffic, greenhouse gas emissions produced by road transport are now declining.
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In Germany, climate protection is developing extremely dynamically. In 2011, Germany became the first industrial country that decided to abandon the use of nuclear energy. By 2022, the country will completely refuse the usage of nuclear energy. Until that time, Germany intends to invest more funds in a radical change of the energy policy. In the global framework, the federal government also actively supports environmental protection, development policies and cooperation in the field of energy taking into account the interests of climate protection. Thus, Germany again accelerates the move towards sustainable energy and the widespread provision of energy from renewable sources. The government of the state understands that by taking this decision, it has set an ambitious task. Therefore, the state intends to take a long-term and irrevocable course to clean, affordable and secure energy supply. The path to this goal is through investments in various sectors of the economy.
This decision finds wide support among the German public. The discussion on the peaceful use of nuclear energy has been deeply worrying the political and social circles for many years. These days, there is a broad democratic consensus regarding the fact that a new orientation of energy policy is possible – technically, conceptually, and economically. The tragedy of Fukushima forced the state to overestimate the risks associated with nuclear energy and accelerated the change of the energy policy.
A fundamental decision in favor of Germany’s transition to renewable energy and the final rejection of nuclear energy was adopted earlier. It is in line with the country’s activities aimed at protecting the environment. The achievement of the goals for the development of renewable energy set by the federal government in 2010 is now rescheduled to an earlier date.
Germany’s accelerated transition to renewable energy occurs under the watchful and critical eye of the neighboring countries. Thus, Germany has set ambitious but realistic goals. In the process of their implementation, the country intends to consider all the objectives – security of supply, financial acceptability, as well as environmental and climate security. Until March 2011, 17 nuclear reactors in Germany have worked out 22% of the required electricity in the country. After eight nuclear reactors were switched off, the share of the remaining nine reactors was about 15%. Even after switching off eight oldest reactors, the guaranteed installed capacity exceeds the maximum internal volume of consumption ever measured in Germany. These days, the potential of new and renewable energy sources, improved systems management, and increased efficiency compensate for the shortage of electricity caused by the shutdown of the reactors. In the future, energy from renewable sources and low-carbon gas power stations will gradually replace nuclear technology. Nevertheless, power plants on fossil fuels will still keep their value as a transitional technology for a certain time. However, goals for climate protection are not subjected to revision. On the one hand, it is about the targets set in the European Union providing for a reduction of CO2 emissions up to 2020 by at least 20%. On the other, it is about national requirement of Germany to reduce emissions in the state by 40%.
In 2010, 17% of the necessary German electricity came from renewable sources. By 2020, this figure would be 35%, and by 2030 – 50%. In 2014, the largest share of electricity in Germany – about a quarter – was first produced from a renewable resource such as wind, solar, and biomass. The author Anthony Giddens states that “Germany is now the world’s biggest user of wind power boasting some 20,000 wind turbines – wind generates about 6 % of the country’s total energy use”. Cardinal changes in the energy policy will not increase Germany’s dependence on other countries. To ensure energy supply from its own resources, the federal government realizes still unprecedented investments into three central tools – expansion of network structures, development of renewable sources, and energy efficiency.
The goal of the German government is to reduce air pollution by at least 40% until 2020 and by 80-95% until 2050 compared with 1990. This goal will be achieved primarily through the increased use of renewable energy sources and optimization of the energy use. In general, the aim of the German government lies in the fact that the citizens of the state should consume less energy contributing to the development of modern efficient technologies and change in the behavior.
Nowadays, Germany is combining climate and environmental protection in terms of sustainable management. The main key is energy efficiency and efficient use of resources, as well as increased use of renewable energy and renewable raw materials. It promotes the development of new energy technologies.
Germany has also played a significant role in introducing the problems of climate change to other countries. In an international context, a considerable merit of Germany lies in the fact that the theme of environmental and climate protection has been put on the agenda. For example, during its presidency in the European Union, Germany has made the issues of climate protection and energy policy the main themes of its activities.
Another goal of Germany is to grant aid to developing countries. The country wants to extend aid to the poorest countries in the world in order to implement the climate protection targets. Until 2020, Germany is committed to enlarging the costs of the international financing of climate protection. Since 2020, the international community intends to direct $ 100 billion annually to protection against droughts and floods.
The protection of environment and climate is one of the global challenges of the XXI century. German policy pays great attention to this problem. At the international level, Germany is considered one of the exemplary countries in the field of climate protection and a pioneer in expanding the use of renewable energy. Germany as one of the leading developed countries provides an accelerated change of power course continuing the path, which has already entered technical and conceptual levels. This change will have a positive influence on the course of performance and environment. It gives new opportunities to efficient, sustainable, cost-effective, and reliable energy in the XXI century.
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