New German govt agrees nuclear u-turn

17th October 2009, Comments 0 comments

Germany decided under ex-chancellor Gerhard Schroeder in 2000 to mothball all reactors by 2020, but Merkel and her new coalition partners pledged in their election campaigns to extend the life of some plants.

Berlin -- German Chancellor Angela Merkel's new coalition has agreed to reverse an earlier decision to abandon nuclear power by 2020, an official involved in talks on a new government programme said last week.

Germany decided under ex-chancellor Gerhard Schroeder in 2000 to mothball all reactors by 2020, but Merkel and her new coalition partners pledged in their election campaigns to extend the life of some plants.

Prior to general elections on September 27, Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU/CSU) were in a coalition with the Social Democrats (SPD), Schroeder's old party. Merkel has now ditched them in favour of the Free Democrats (FDP).

The new government's plans will remain vague in the new coalition agreement, however, FDP energy expert Gudrun Kopp told AFP on Thursday, with details such as which reactors will remain running to be determined at a later date.

Media reports have said that Merkel wants to delay concrete decisions on the nuclear issue until after a key state election in May in North Rhine-Westphalia which could lose her party a majority in the upper house, the Bundesrat.

Nuclear power is highly unpopular in Germany, with shipments of radioactive waste regularly triggering angry protests. The country has no permanent storage site for the waste.

But Merkel and the FDP argue that meeting Germany's pledge to cut carbon emissions by 40 percent compared with 1990 levels by 2020 is impossible without extending the life of reactors.

They also want to reduce dependence on volatile gas and oil imports from Russia and the Middle East.

Environmentalists, including the Green party, Schroeder's coalition partners when the 2000 decision was taken, have vowed street protests if Merkel and the FDP go ahead.

AFP/Expatica

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