While Germany originally envisioned closing its last nuclear power plant by the end of this year, the current energy crisis and the possibility of blackouts during winter have since increased pressure on the government, especially on Greens, to change course. [EPA-EFE/RONALD WITTEK]
Infighting in the German government between the Greens and the liberal FDP over the phase-out of nuclear energy intensified over the weekend, with the government failing to reach a compromise.
Chancellor Olaf Scholz met with Green Economy Minister Robert Habeck and Liberal Finance Minister Christian Lindner on Sunday to reach a compromise over the extension of nuclear power plants.
While Germany originally envisioned closing its last nuclear power plant by the end of this year, the current energy crisis and the possibility of blackouts during winter have since increased pressure on the government, especially on Greens, to change course.
At the Green Party congress this weekend, the traditionally anti-nuclear party gave in to the pressure and voted to extend the power plants’ runtime to April 2023. However, the Greens also defined some “red lines” that should not be crossed under any circumstance – like buying new nuclear fuel to keep the plants running longer – a move that the liberal FDP heavily criticised.
“When it comes to averting harm to our country, reducing ruinously high energy prices, preventing blackouts – there are no red lines for me,” Lindner told die Welt. This is not “about party politics,” he added.
The FDP demands that power plants should remain in operation until 2024 and that even more nuclear reactors should remain on the grid to ensure energy security.
German Environment Minister Steffi Lemke fired back, inferring that the push by the FDP was primarily driven by their poor performances in recent elections.
It’s “not about the pain of election results, but making the right decisions for our country and taking responsibility,” she said.
The FDP has suffered defeat in the four most recent regional elections and even fell below the 5% threshold in the election in Lower Saxony on 9 October, thus losing all its seats in the regional parliament.