Green dilemma in Germany’s coalition. Nuclear power and the Ukraine war

Lee Heidhues 10.14.2022

The Green Party became part of Germany’s ruling Coalition nearly a year ago. 

One of the Green campaign pledges was its long standing commitment to shut down the three nuclear power plants in Germany.

That commitment has now come up against the reality of Putin’s Ukraine aggression and its impact on Germany’s energy needs.

Excerpted from Deutsche Welle 10.14.2022

The Green Party supported German Economy Minister Robert Habeck in his plans to operate two nuclear power plants in reserve in southern Germany by spring 2023.

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Germany’s Green Economy Minister confronts an anti-nuclear protester. “Nuclear energy. Not one day longer!”

At the delegates’ meeting on Friday evening in Bonn, a motion by grassroots representatives to block an extension of the nuclear power plants’ lifetime altogether failed.

The energy crisis triggered by the Russian attack on Ukraine affects everyone, business as well as people. Habeck has procured gas from many countries to replace the Russian supplies, which has little to do with a sustainable energy supply. And with coal-fired power plants already operating, the minister could use the party’s backing.

Omid Nouripour, one of two party co-leaders of the Greens, was sure at the beginning of the meeting that Habeck would get it. He told DW: “Our people in the Cabinet are taking responsibility. There are no manuals for the current situation, you have to solve problems off-the-cuff. And the party thinks that’s right and proper.”

“Thoughtfully and with determination,” Habeck said in his fiery speech to the conference, “this is how we lead Germany through the winter, this is how we give Germany security.”

However, he admitted that parts of this path could be painful for the Greens. “But we will never confuse what is the problem and what is the solution. Fossil fuels and nuclear power are the problem,” Habeck said.

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The Green Party made its mark in the early 1980’s protesting nuclear energy

Instead, the party congress supported the line of leaving the Isar II and Neckarwestheim II nuclear power plants in operation as emergency reserves until April 15. The Emsland nuclear power plant, on the other hand, should go offline at the end of 2022 — as previously planned for all three sites, the last still in operation in the country.

However, there is still a dispute about this in the federal government. The FDP is calling for the Emsland nuclear plant to continue to operate and even beyond spring 2023.

Habeck’s ministry, with responsibilities including energy and economic affairs, has been trading blame with the FDP-led Finance Ministry this week for the slow progress in bringing the coalition’s current plan for a limited extension through Cabinet and sending it on to parliament to be debated.

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German nuclear power plant. Will it stay or will it go?

Top photo. Protesting nuclear energy. “Atomic energy. No thank you!”