12 July 2010

Germany - king of green

Germany just keeps impressing. First, it reaches the semi-finals of the World Cup. Then we read in The Globe and Mail that its economy is roaring back from the recession with BMW announcing 5,000 new jobs and Daimler-Mercedes and Siemens adding thousands more. On Friday the Guardian carried a story about Germany's pace-setting progress in going green, saying it will probably "become the world's first major industrial nation to kick the fossil-fuel habit."

Jochen Flasbarth, president of the country's Federal Environment Agency claims, "A complete conversion to renewable energy by 2050 is possible from a technical and ecological point of view." Germany plans to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 40 per cent between 1990 and 2020, and by 80-85 per cent by 2050. The European Union as a whole has only committed to 20 per cent reduction from 1990 to 2020 but even that is far greater than our pathetic 17 per cent from 2005 to 2020.

Commitments are fine, but it's achievement that counts, and Germany is achieving, leading the world in sustainable energy. From 1990 to the end of 2007, it had already reduced its greenhouse gas emissions by over 20 per cent. It has tripled the amount of electricity it gets from wind, solar and other renewable sources over the past 15 years, and in the last decade has created 300,000 renewable energy jobs.

We insist on taking our cue from our southern neighbour when it comes to greening our energy use. We should be looking to Europe.

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