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BERLIN (AP) – Chancellor Angela Merkel on Thursday defended her decision to end Germany’s use of nuclear power next year, but admitted it will make it harder to cut gas emissions at short-term greenhouse effect.
The decision, taken in the wake of the Fukushima nuclear disaster 10 years ago, is seen as one of the pivotal moments in Merkel’s 16-year tenure. Critics have said the move places a double burden on Germany as it seeks to reduce its carbon emissions to zero by 2045.
“There are other countries that choose differently and in doing so it will be easier for them, in some ways, to achieve climate neutrality,” Merkel told reporters in Germany. “I still believe that nuclear power is not a sustainable form of energy production in the long term.
The phase-out of nuclear power by the end of 2022 has made Germany more dependent on coal in the years to come compared to France or Great Britain. But the German government has also pledged to end the burning of coal by 2038, a goal which Merkel says could only be achieved by significantly expanding the use of renewables and building on on less polluting natural gas as a bridge technology.
She rejected the idea that a future government could reverse the nuclear decision, saying that “for Germany the die is cast” and called instead for more efforts to increase hydrogen production, a carbon-free fuel that experts say will be needed by the country’s industry.