Merkel says to take nuclear opposition 'seriously'
Chancellor Angela Merkel vowed on Monday to "take seriously" the concerns of opponents to her proposals to postpone the date that Germany abandons nuclear power.
"The government yesterday approved a far-reaching and sweeping concept for energy production in the coming decades, making our power generation the most efficient and most environmentally friendly in the world," Merkel said.
"We have adopted a timetable taking us into the era of renewable energy as soon as possible. Our ultimate objective is arriving at the era of renewable energy," she told reporters.
"This means that we need nuclear energy, as well as coal, as a bridge technology. I know that many people are very sceptical and critical of nuclear power, and we take these concerns completely seriously."
Merkel's cabinet decided overnight to Monday after 12 hours of talks to extend the life of Germany's 17 nuclear reactors by an average of 12 years beyond a scheduled shutdown of around 2020.
Many Germans are uncomfortable about nuclear power and opposition parties and environmentalist have vowed to fight tooth and nail the move, with nationwide street protests planned for September 18.
Nuclear energy "will only be used for as long as is absolutely necessary, and ... energy companies in the coming years will invest huge sums in security. Security is paramount," Merkel said.
She said that the extension would ensure that electricity prices were "affordable" for citizens and firms, would stop jobs being lost and would ensure that prosperity in Europe's biggest economy would "continue to develop."
© 2010 AFP