01 Mar 2019, 13:34
Benjamin Wehrmann

Most Germans say it is right to close nuclear plants before coal plants

Clean Energy Wire

Nearly half of the people in Germany say the plan to close nuclear plants before coal is right, a survey commissioned by price comparison website Verivox has found. In the survey of over 5,000 people, 49.5 percent said the planned decommissioning of the last nuclear plant by 2022 and the last coal plant by 2038 is the right order, possibly because they consider the danger of nuclear power to be greater than the effect of carbon emissions from coal-fired power production on climate change, Verivox says. However, with 44.1 percent, almost as many respondents said closing nuclear plants before coal plants is wrong from a climate perspective, with voters of parties to the right of the centre, meaning Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative CDU/CSU alliance, the pro-business FDP and the right-wing nationalist AfD most likely to be against the planned order of phase-outs. By contrast, 75 percent of Social Democratic (SPD) and Green Party voters said they prefer the planned order. “Germans are split over the current climate policy debate,” says Valerian Vogel of Verivox. “It seems to be above all a question of political attitude whether nuclear power or coal power is seen as the greater danger.”

The German public in general overwhelmingly approves of a coal exit. In a survey released in May 2018, 75 percent of respondents said the government should introduce a law for a gradual coal exit without delay. In another survey in Germany’s largest coal mining state North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) in February 2019, 51 percent said the 2038 exit date is “too late.” The anti-nuclear movement, on the other hand, has a much longer tradition in Germany, dating back to the country’s Green movement in the 1970s. The rejection of nuclear power remains strong despite the technology’s much smaller carbon footprint.

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