Commission sees nuclear exit within decade

Germany's energy ethics commission is to recommend a complete phaseout of nuclear power by 2021. The independent body’s report is due to be submitted to Chancellor Angela Merkel this weekend.

Commission sees nuclear exit within decade
Image Source: DPA

The commission, which was established to report on the future of nuclear power, is holding its final meeting this Saturday in Berlin and could still alter the final report. The draft report, which news agency DPA has seen, states: “The ethics commission is of the firm belief that an exit can be completed within a decade.”

The findings are to be submitted to Chancellor Merkel on Saturday evening or Sunday, ahead of a meeting of the coalition of her conservative Christian Democrats (CDU), their Bavarian allies the Christian Social Union (CSU) and the pro-business Free Democrats (FDP) on Sunday evening. The government will then decide on a final date for the country’s nuclear exit, which has been brought forward in the aftermath of the nuclear accident at Fukushima in Japan.

The report states that the disaster in Japan had “made the risks of nuclear energy much clearer to many people in Germany.”

In March, Merkel reversed a 2010 decision to extend the lifespan of the country’s nuclear power plants. She also ordered the temporary closure of the country’s seven oldest reactors. Her U-turn on nuclear policy followed a string of regional election upsets which have seen support wane for the government parties as voters turned to the Greens, a party that has consistently opposed nuclear energy.

On Friday, Germany’s state environment ministers jointly called for the seven oldest plants to be shut down permanently. The 16 ministers also demanded “the legally earliest possible exit from nuclear energy” while raising the mix of power from renewable energy to 40 percent by at least 2020.

While the government makes its deliberations this weekend, many Germans are taking to the streets to keep up the pressure for a rapid exit from nuclear power. Tens of thousands of anti-nuclear demonstrators are expected to attend marches in 20 cities, with organizers estimating at least 30,000 will attend the rally in Berlin alone.

The Local/DPA/smd

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German government announces fresh relief package for high energy costs

With Russia's invasion in Ukraine exacerbating high energy and petrol prices, Germany is set to introduce a second relief package to limit the impact on consumers.

German government announces fresh relief package for high energy costs

The additional package of measures was announced by Economy and Climate Protection Minister Robert Habeck (Greens) on Sunday.

Speaking to DPA, Habeck said the wave of price increases throughout the energy sector were becoming increasingly difficult for households to bear.

“Extremely high heating costs, extremely high electricity prices, and extremely high fuel prices are putting a strain on households, and the lower the income, the more so,” he said. “The German government will therefore launch another relief package.”

The costs of heating and electricity have hit record highs in the past few months due to post-pandemic supply issues. 

This dramatic rise in prices has already prompted the government to introduce a range of measures to ease the burden on households, including abolishing the Renewable Energy Act (EEG) levy earlier than planned, offering grants to low-income households and increasing the commuter allowance. 

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: What Germany’s relief package against rising prices means for you

But since Russia invaded neighbouring Ukraine on February 24th, the attack has been driving up energy prices further, Habeck explained.

He added that fears of supply shortages and speculation on the market were currently making the situation worse. 

How will the package work?

When defining the new relief measures, the Economics Ministry will use three criteria, Habeck revealed. 

Firstly, the measures must span all areas of the energy market, including heating costs, electricity and mobility. 

Heating is the area where households are under the most pressure. The ministry estimates that the gas bill for an average family in an unrenovated one-family house will rise by about €2,000 this year. 

Secondly, the package should include measures to help save energy, such as reducing car emissions or replacing gas heating systems.

Thirdly, market-based incentives should be used to ensure that people who use less energy also have lower costs. 

“The government will now put together the entire package quickly and constructively in a working process,” said Habeck.

Fuel subsidy

The three-point plan outlined by the Green Party politician are not the only relief proposals being considered by the government.

According to reports in German daily Bild, Finance Minister Christian Lindner (FPD) is allegedly considering introducing a state fuel subsidy for car drivers.

The amount of the subsidy – which hasn’t yet been defined – would be deducted from a driver’s bill when paying at the petrol station. 

The operator of the petrol station would then have to submit the receipts to the tax authorities later in order to claim the money back. 

Since the start of the war in Ukraine, fuel prices have risen dramatically in Germany: diesel has gone up by around 66 cents per litre, while a litre of E10 has gone up by around 45 cents.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: The everyday products getting more expensive in Germany

As well as support for consumers, the government is currently working on a credit assistance programme to assist German companies that have been hit hard by the EU sanctions against Russia.

As reported by Bild on Saturday, bridging aid is also being discussed for companies that can no longer manage the sharp rise in raw material prices.

In addition, an extension of the shorter working hours (Kurzarbeit) scheme beyond June 30th is allegedly being examined, as well as a further increase in the commuter allowance.