Merkel: German phase-out plans to stay

03 July 2007

German chancellor Angela Merkel called the battle against climate change the "greatest challenge of the 21st century" - but says there will be no change to the government's plan to phase out nuclear power.

Merkel unveiled plans to cut carbon emissions by up to 40% by 2020. However, she disappointed industry heads at a Berlin summit by reiterating that the government does not expect to agree any change to its nuclear energy policy before 2009, when the current legislative period ends.

Germany's nuclear power plants generate about 26% of its electricity but are due to close by 2021 under an agreement reached by the previous administration and ratified by Merkel's coalition government. Utility chiefs want to operate nuclear plants for longer, and industrial leaders had hoped the debate about the nuclear phase-out could be reopened as a result of the Berlin meeting. Many members of Merkel's Conservative party would also like to see the phase-out dropped, but the plan remains strongly supported by the Social Democrats, who form half of the coalition government.

Merkel said the government wants to achieve the carbon cuts by improving energy efficiency by 3% per year, an amount many energy industry experts have called unrealistic.

Today's discussions are to form the basis of a national energy plan, with the German government to produce a package of legislative measures. Decisions are expected at a cabinet meeting in August.

Further information

WNA's Nuclear Power in Germany information paper

 German nuclear phase-out limits carbon cuts
WNN: Merkel does not support nuclear phase-out