How Britain beat Germany in the race for green energy


In the UK there is now considerable euphoria around decarbonisation. This is, to say the least, a surprise. In the 19th century Britain led the world into the era of fossil fuels, and as recently as 10 years ago it lagged far behind in the energy transition compared to other large European countries. Way back in the 1970s, France had gone the whole hog for nuclear. Under Gerhard Schröder’s Red-Green government in the late 1990s and early 2000s, Germany had pioneered solar and wind and ambitious energy efficiency standards for housing. As the 21st century began, Britain was still an island of coal surrounded by seas of oil and gas.

Yet today, the UK’s per capita CO2 emissions are almost 40 per cent lower than Germany’s, the country that “progressive” Britons almost reflexively assume does everything “better than us.” The UK is a world leader in offshore wind power, one of the most promising sources of renewable energy. The UK parliament was one of the first to commit to net zero carbon emissions by 2050. The Labour Party went into the December election espousing a Green New Deal more radical than anything envisioned by the German Greens. And though the Labour conference resolution of zero emissions by 2030 may be unrealistic, the end of coal-fired power generation in the UK is in sight—years ahead of Germany.

Read the full article at Prospect

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