VIDEO: Will Germany Banish Fossil Fuels Before the US?

Germany’s ambitious plan to transform its electrical grid by 2050.

<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/vattenfall/3581340973/sizes/o/in/photostream/">Vattenfall</a>/Flikr

This story first appeared in PBS and is reproduced here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration

What would it take to transform the whole country’s electric grid—to shut down all of its old power plants, and move to a system that generates electricity exclusively from renewable resources? Well, that’s exactly what Germany’s trying to do—not decades from now…but now. Correspondent Rick Karr reports on how German political parties of every stripe are now backing a plan that is expected to nearly end that country’s use of fossil fuels by 2050.

Below, Karr sits down with German environmental economist Claudia Kemfert, who heads the department of energy, transportation and environment at the German Institute for Economic Research, to discuss Germany’s Energiewende:

Literally, the word Energiewende means “energy turn,” and it describes the country’s bold plan to shift from nuclear and fossil fuels to renewable energy sources.

According to The Economist, the Energiewende was “dreamed up in the 1980s, became policy in 2000 and sped up after the Fukushima disaster in March 2011.”

 

 

 

INFOGRAPHIC: How do the US and Germany compare?

PBS

Following Fukushima, German Chancellor Angela Merkel reaffirmed Germany’s pledge to Energiewende, but insisted the country’s targets be met without the use of nuclear power. Germany’s goal now stands at 65 percent renewables on the grid by 2040 and 80 percent—the most the country believes it can achieve with existing technology—by 2050.

“The German public strongly supports renewable energy,” Kemfert said. “They strongly support the Energiewende and this is why our politicians react, and this is why German consumers are willing to pay more for electricity.”

More Mother Jones reporting on Climate Desk

LET’S TALK ABOUT OPTIMISM FOR A CHANGE

Democracy and journalism are in crisis mode—and have been for a while. So how about doing something different?

Mother Jones did. We just merged with the Center for Investigative Reporting, bringing the radio show Reveal, the documentary film team CIR Studios, and Mother Jones together as one bigger, bolder investigative journalism nonprofit.

And this is the first time we’re asking you to support the new organization we’re building. In “Less Dreading, More Doing,” we lay it all out for you: why we merged, how we’re stronger together, why we’re optimistic about the work ahead, and why we need to raise the First $500,000 in online donations by June 22.

It won’t be easy. There are many exciting new things to share with you, but spoiler: Wiggle room in our budget is not among them. We can’t afford missing these goals. We need this to be a big one. Falling flat would be utterly devastating right now.

A First $500,000 donation of $500, $50, or $5 would mean the world to us—a signal that you believe in the power of independent investigative reporting like we do. And whether you can pitch in or not, we have a free Strengthen Journalism sticker for you so you can help us spread the word and make the most of this huge moment.

payment methods

LET’S TALK ABOUT OPTIMISM FOR A CHANGE

Democracy and journalism are in crisis mode—and have been for a while. So how about doing something different?

Mother Jones did. We just merged with the Center for Investigative Reporting, bringing the radio show Reveal, the documentary film team CIR Studios, and Mother Jones together as one bigger, bolder investigative journalism nonprofit.

And this is the first time we’re asking you to support the new organization we’re building. In “Less Dreading, More Doing,” we lay it all out for you: why we merged, how we’re stronger together, why we’re optimistic about the work ahead, and why we need to raise the First $500,000 in online donations by June 22.

It won’t be easy. There are many exciting new things to share with you, but spoiler: Wiggle room in our budget is not among them. We can’t afford missing these goals. We need this to be a big one. Falling flat would be utterly devastating right now.

A First $500,000 donation of $500, $50, or $5 would mean the world to us—a signal that you believe in the power of independent investigative reporting like we do. And whether you can pitch in or not, we have a free Strengthen Journalism sticker for you so you can help us spread the word and make the most of this huge moment.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate