Phasing out nuclear power: If Germany can do it, Vermont can do it – and sooner. This is the takeaway for Jochen Flasbarth, President of Germany’s Federal Environment Agency, after visiting Vermont.
Flasbarth was invited to exchange experiences on the concurrent nuclear phase-outs that are underway in Germany and Vermont. In his meetings with State Representatives, high-level government officials, the media, renewable energy advocates and anti-nuclear activists, he emphasized that the purpose of his trip was not “missionarying” that the German method is the right and only one, but rather to explain why Germany chose denuclearization and how the process will be implemented. Flasbarth was accompanied by Arne Jungjohann, Program Director of the Environment and Global Dialogue Program at the Heinrich Böll Foundation North America. Both praised Vermont’s decision not to renew the license for Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant as “an amazing shift in energy policy” that would enable a rapid deployment of renewable energy with strong benefits for local communities. On Northeast Public Radio, Jungjohann pointed to Germany that has seen “a big boom in renewable energies” in the last ten years.
In a meeting with Rep. Tony Klein, the German delegation discussed the shutdown of Vermont Yankee and the challenges of the pending court decision. Rep. Klein, Chair of the House Natural Resources and Energy Committee in the Vermont House of Representatives, also praised German policies to move away from nuclear power to green energy and said that this validates the work he and others have been doing in Vermont to move away from nuclear power.
Addressing the wide-spread fears of higher energy prices for consumers associated with a nuclear phase-out, Flasbarth explained the economic opportunities inherent in investing in a green economy. In recent years, more than 370,000 jobs have been created in Germany’s renewable energy sector, while the nuclear and coal industry together employ less than 50,000 people. The Renewable Energy Act, an advanced feed-in tariff policy, set incentives for new investments and triggered the creativity of engineers and entrepreneurs. Thus, renewable energies have helped Germany overcome the global economic downturn and create a stimulus for the local energy economy. In addition, Flasbarth pointed out that in Germany, environmental and climate problems are consensual issues: “Nobody seriously doubts their importance. Most of us think that if we take action now, we’ll simply have more opportunities for our children.”
Jochen Flasbarth toured Vermont from October 10-12, 2011. He visited Brattleboro, Montpelier and Burlington. The tour was organized by Beyond Nuclear and the Heinrich Böll Foundation in cooperation with Citizen’s Awareness Network, Safe and Green Campaign, Vermont Yankee Decommissioning Alliance, and Vermont PIRG. “The visit was inspiring, informative and motivating for Vermonters,” said Linda Gunter, international specialist at Beyond Nuclear, who accompanied Flasbarth and Jungjohann. “Herr Flasbarth was able to deliver the essential building bricks – especially pertaining to the feed-in tariff – on which Vermont can continue to build toward its goal of a 90% renewable energy economy by 2050.”
Rutland Herald, Oct. 12, 2011: German: Going nuclear free possible
WAMC Northeast Public Radio, Oct. 13, 2011: German Officials Touring Vermont do Discuss Renewable Energy and Nuclear Closures
Fox44 News, Oct. 11, 2011: German Experts Share Renewable Energy Ideas with Vermonters (with Video)
Burlington Free Press, Oct. 15, 2011: Germany’s EPA director visits Vermont to offer encouragement to renewable energy entrepreneurs
VTdigger, Oct.11, 2011: German leaders push for nuclear phase out in Vermont