Does a rising German 'ecological-industrial complex' threaten the EU?

Germany's Green Party is pushing for clean energy, climate-friendly retrofitting, and government stimulus of green jobs. Is this a hopeful sign or a worrying one?

Arnd Wiegmann / Reuters
Co-leaders of the German Green Party Cem Oezdemir (rear, l.) and Claudia Roth (rear, r.) applaud after the speech of Winfried Kretschmann, a local candidate, during a party meeting in Freiburg on Nov. 20. The Green Party is pushing hard for sweeping reforms. What does this mean for Germany – and the EU?

The German Green Party, which is on the rise again (having won an additional seventeen seats in last year’s elections), has set the target of running their country on 100% “clean” energy by 2050, and plans on lobbying for more import restrictions on “unclean” products into the EU. If the Greens get back into government in Germany and implement these sorts of policy, it will create a huge upward struggle for consumers both in Germany and across the EU.

The term “clean renewables” is a piece of politically correct doublethink which includes things like hazardous bio-diesel (which, incidentally, drives up food prices) but excludes nuclear energy which unless run by wasteful communists is ultra-clean. They can also be enormously expensive.

But never mind – it's the consumer who will pick up the tab, and environmentalists rarely care about that. Climate-friendly retrofitting of Germany's buildings could amount to €2.5 trillion, which owners will transfer to tenants through increased rents. Germany has one the highest numbers of renters to homeowners in Europe. Therefore, this matter hugely for disenfranchising households in terms of energy costs. “Green” requirements like these are simply a form of indirect taxation that hit the poor hardest, and those who can’t afford to pay for the government’s green energy targets will be forced to move out of the bigger cities like Berlin and Frankfurt.

Environmentalism has been invoked to justify economic "stimulus" programmes that “create” green jobs. It does not – it simply redirects resources from things that people want to things that the green lobby want. Consumers are forced to buy new versions of expensive everyday products—from refrigerators to cars—not because of age or deterioration, but because they no longer conform to the most recent environmental standards.

These rules also serve as stealth tariffs to block trade – so plastic dolls from China and genetically modified food from Brazil can both be blocked under the cover of environmentalism. Some might see an unholy alliance of environmentalists and industrialists in these import restrictions. (Is the green lobby in the pocket of Big Industry?)

Where the German ecological-industrial complex leads, the rest of Europe will probably have to follow, thanks to Germany’s huge influence over the EU. The rise of the German Greens is bad news for Britain, and could be even worse if British environmentalists make similar gains.

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