17 Aug 2023, 13:45
Benjamin Wehrmann

Two thirds of eastern Germans dissatisfied with government's climate policy - survey

Clean Energy Wire

Residents in eastern German states are generally critical of the federal government’s energy and climate policies, while at the same time endorsing measures to reduce emissions, a survey commissioned by energy supplier enviaM found. Only about a quarter of respondents (26%) said they approve of current policies, down from 31 percent in 2022. However, a majority (70%) were supportive of policies for grid expansion, renewables buildout and hydrogen production. Priorities regarding climate and energy policies among survey respondents were affordability of energy (40%), faster renewables expansion (12%), re-entering nuclear power production (11%) and better supply security (10 percent). “In general, one third of east Germans are ready to pay more for the energy transition and climate action, while two thirds of the population are dissatisfied with the government’s general energy and climate policies, no matter whether they are young or old,” the company said.

Around half (47%) said they have the necessary financial means to invest in the decarbonisation of their heating systems. Almost 70 percent answered they would accept a new solar power farm in their neighbourhood, compared to only 38 percent who said they would accept an onshore wind farm. Acceptance generally increased when the renewable power projects included provisions that directly benefited local residents, either through a share in profits or lower power prices by direct supply. Only 30 percent said they would accept the construction of new power lines in their region. “The low acceptance of power lines will not move us forward,” commented enviaM head Stephan Lowis. He said greater acceptance of this key aspect of the energy transition could be achieved “through clear and transparent communication and early involvement of citizens in grid expansion projects.” 

While climate action is a very important topic for people across Germany, western Germans on average are more concerned with curbing emissions, whereas their eastern counterparts worry more about the costs and economic changes of climate policies. The anti-climate action and far-right party AfD enjoys much higher support in the typically rural regions of the east. The Green Party, which is most associated with climate action, lags  far behind the national average in the same areas. Three out the five formerly communist eastern states will elect a new state government in 2024.

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