German States Acting Like Trump On Global Warming

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Andrew Follett Energy and Science Reporter
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At least two German states are prioritizing economic growth over fighting global warming, according to Breaking Views.

North Rhine-Westphalia and Brandenburg are “at risk of tacitly joining Donald Trump in turning its back on the Paris climate change deal,” Breaking View reported Wednesday.  These states are so integral to Germany meeting its Paris agreement on climate change pledge, if they don’t cut emissions enough the whole country could default.

Environmentalists at the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) commissioned a study in 2016 that claims if even one of the state’s refused to reduce CO2 emissions, it would cause a default.

Both German states run their economies off coal power plants, and their governments have vowed to protect the more than 70,000 coal jobs in the states. Many of these coal jobs are located in economically deprived regions in the country’s east.

Germany gets roughly 44 percent of its power from coal and is likely to continue doing so due to a government program phasing out the country’s nuclear power plants. This shift caused Germany’s carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions to actually rise by 28 million tons each year. Additionally, Germany has been scaling back subsidies for green power since its legislature voted to abandon them last July.

If Germany remains reliant on coal power, it could destroy the Paris agreement.

“Unless [Angela] Merkel can rein in the brown coal enthusiasts at home, she risks sending a devastating message to the world,” states Breaking View. “If a country as rich and ecologically conscious as Germany prioritises coal mining jobs over the fight against global warming, others will also find it easier to turn their back on the treaty.”

This isn’t the first time Germany’s plans to reduce CO2 emissions have run into trouble.

In early March, an architect of Germany’s global warming plan to reduce carbon emissions called it “a disaster” that cost too much money. Germany is estimated to have paid over $1.1 trillion to support green power. This “Energiewende” aimed to boost the amount of wind and solar power to fight global warming, but the country’s CO2 emissions haven’t significantly decreased and may have actually gone up due to the inherent unreliability of wind and solar power.

Germany even had to pay wind farms $548 million in 2016 to switch off to prevent damage to the electric grid, according to a survey of power companies by the newspaper Wirtschaftswoche. All of Germany’s subsidies and support for green energy have sharply increased power prices, with the average German paying 39 cents per kilowatt-hour for electricity. The average American only spends 10.4 cents per kilowatt-hour by comparison.

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