Environmental groups have enormous political power in Germany. For years, they have been urging the federal government to ban fracking. A policy review has been ongoing at the highest levels for more than 5 years. Finally, the fossil fuel companies said they had waited long enough and announced they would seek permits to begin fracking operations immediately.
That was enough to spur the government to act. On Friday, the lower house of the German legislature enacted a ban on fracking. Chancellor Angela Merkel has announced she will sign it, making it the law of the land in Germany. “We have a new situation where industry said that without any legal rules, we’ll simply start making requests,” Volker Kauder, parliamentary chief for Merkel’s Christian Democratic-led bloc told reporters last week in Berlin. “Therefore we had to act.”
Fracking is very unpopular in Germany. – is deeply unpopular in Germany. Easing drilling rules has prompted criticism from mineral water makers to beer brewers and citizen groups worrying about earth tremors caused by fracturing bedrock.
Fossil fuel companies are outraged, of course. ExxonMobil, among others, have attacked the ban as ill-conceived and a threat to Germany’s financial future. On the other hand, environmental groups are also upset. The new law is set to be reviewed in 5 years. The greens worry that the fossil fuel companies will use the time to lobby hard for reversing the ban.
“It is not a real ban on fracking what they decided,” Greenpeace campaigner Christoph von Lieven says. “The Bundestag decided that fracking will be allowed. Not banned.” Indeed, the law will allow some forms of fracking for scientific purposes to continue.
Attitudes in Germany are changing. Last Thursday, Berlin’s House of Representatives voted to blacklist investments in companies deemed incompatible with its goal of becoming climate neutral by 2050. Its municipal pension fund will divestg itself of all such stock holdings as a result. The move follows the lead of other European capitals such as Stockholm and Oslo who have already divested from fossil fuels.
For the fossil fuel industry, the handwriting is on the wall. When it comes to pumping enormous amounts of pollutants into the atmosphere and the earth and the oceans in pursuit of corporate profits, people and governments are mad as hell and they aren’t going to take it any more.
Except in the US, where fossil fuel interests continue to purchase political support from witless legislators who are for sale to the highest bidder. Sadly, the US Congress does not have the courage to do what the German legislature just did — something to keep in mind when you go to the polls this November.
Source and photo credit: Business Green