Germany's Energiewende at a Crossroads

in German Politics and Society
Jonas Heering German and European Studies, Georgetown University, USA

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Thane Gustafson Government, Georgetown University, USA

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This article examines Germany's current climate and energy policies. Nearly two decades on, Germany's Energiewende—the transition to a less carbon-intensive economy—is at a crossroads. While remarkable advances have been made, the technical difficulties of expanding the energy transition beyond the electricity sector, the mounting costs of the transition itself, and now the covid-19 pandemic are slowing further progress. Maintaining the momentum of the Energiewende would require collaborative action, yet the principal political players have different agendas, making it difficult to reach decisions. In this article, we consider three of those actors: the German public, the opposition parties, and the government. We find that agreements on German climate policy have been diluted in political compromises and that real progress is being blocked. These problems will only increase as Germany deals with the consequences of the pandemic and faces a transition in national leadership in 2021.

Contributor Notes

Jonas Heering recently received a Master's degree in German and European Studies from Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service. At Georgetown, he was a Bunker Graduate Fellow at the Institute for the Study of Diplomacy and served as Co-chair of the 2021 Transatlantic Policy Symposium. Prior to Georgetown, he worked at the Heinrich Böll Foundation and the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, dc. Originally from Bonn, he holds Bachelor's degrees in Political Science and Business from Texas Christian University.

Thane Gustafson is a Professor of Government at Georgetown University. A widely recognized authority on Eurasia, he has spent 40 years studying and traveling in Russia, Ukraine, and the rest of the Former Soviet Union. In recent years his research interests have shifted toward climate change and Europe, especially Germany. His publications include The Bridge: Natural Gas in a Redivided Europe (2020), Wheel of Fortune: The Battle for Oil and Power in Russia (2012), and Klimat: Russia in the Age of Climate Change, which will be published by Harvard University Press in 2021.

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