Change in the air for energy policy if general election returns a coalition government

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Change is in the air for energy policy in Germany if September's general election returns a coalition Conservative government instead of the long-standing Social Democratic and Green party alliance. Angela Merkel, the chosen candidate for Chancellor of the CDU/CSU challengers, believes it will be necessary to slow down the phasing out of nuclear power in Germany. She says that meeting 20% of German energy consumption from renewable energy sources by 2020, the aim of the current government, is "hardly realistic." She does not, however, question that 12.5% of electricity generation can come from renewables by 2010 -- the country's current target. Merkel does not rule out dropping the current system of renewables support, in which the government obliges utilities to buy green power at rates which it decides. Instead, she indicates that a policy that "could make sense under certain conditions" is to oblige utilities to supply a specific proportion of their electricity sales from renewables power at prices set by the forces of supply and demand. The German electricity federation, VDEW, has said it prefers this model. Merkel also wants Germany's energy and environment policy laws to be re-examined since particularly the renewable energy law, eco-tax legislation and the cogeneration support law are "uncoordinated, resulting in double burdens." Current policy cannot continue, she warns. Further, Germany's climate policy should be brought more into line with international policy. She intends to reverse Germany's pledge to reduce CO2 emissions in the second Kyoto trading period, from 2008-2012. Further, subsidies to the coal industry will be reduced more swiftly than under the present government's schedule.

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