25 Jan 2023, 13:10
Julian Wettengel

NGOs propose to align renewables rollout with ‘green infrastructure’ protection

Clean Energy Wire

Several environmental NGOs call on the German government to align the more rapid buildout of renewable energy with protecting and expanding ‘green infrastructure’ such as natural wetlands or forests. In their input to the current government dispute about how to speed up planning and permit procedures for key infrastructure projects, the NGOs agree that the infrastructure buildout, such as renewables projects, power grids, and rail infrastructure, has to be accelerated significantly for the move to a climate-neutral economy in time to mitigate the worst effects of climate change. However, this must not come at the expense of nature protection or stakeholder participation, they say in a discussion paper seen by Clean Energy Wire. “The aim must be for the provision of renewable and ecosystem services to be mutually reinforcing as a basis for prosperity and quality of life,” says the paper. The NGOs, including Greenpeace Germany and umbrella group DNR, propose to fast-track especially those projects that lead to a “measurable and lasting improvement” of green infrastructure. Higher financial participation for the local communities could also be a condition for faster procedures. Renewables have been labelled as of “overriding public interest” to accelerate the development, and the NGOs propose to include green infrastructure in this as well.

The NGOs have sent the paper to relevant ministries and the chancellery. The leaders of the government coalition parties are set to meet tomorrow (26 January) to debate ways to speed up planning and permitting of infrastructure necessary for the move to climate neutrality. The meeting comes after months of dispute between ministries over the right measures and questions such as whether to include new road infrastructure, or rather focussing on areas like renewables, grids and rail transport. ‘Green infrastructure’ is a strategically planned network of natural and semi-natural areas with other environmental features designed and managed to deliver a wide range of ecosystem services such as water purification, air quality, space for recreation and climate mitigation and adaptation. This includes for example protecting peatland and forests.

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