Economics Minister Habeck wants to keep two nuclear power plants as emergency reserves. With this, Habeck tries to save himself from a dilemma. But there is also a lot of tactics and campaigning involved, as one detail reveals.

The “big picture” promised by the Green Climate Minister Robert Habeck looks like this: In order to become climate-neutral by 2045, Germany will need twice as much electricity by then as it does today. Nothing generates electricity cleaner, cheaper and safer than nuclear power. And the traffic light coalition is getting out of this technology because the Greens want it. (And implement the decision of the SPD and the Union) In April nuclear power will finally come to an end. Unless…

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Something must happen, but nothing must happen. According to this principle, Habeck has now decided on the fate of the three nuclear power plants that are still in operation: if they are needed, they can run four months longer than until the end of the year when nuclear power plants were phased out. With this nuclear balancing act, the Economics Minister completed the nuclear stress test, which was also a very personal stress test – and one for the Greens. Above all, Habeck bought himself time. And twice.

The first time until the state elections in Lower Saxony. There will be elections in four and a half weeks, and the state Greens could not have needed anything less than breaking the nuclear taboo. Habeck has avoided this in two ways: First, the fundamental phase-out of nuclear power remains, and second, the nuclear power reserve is in Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg, but not in Lower Saxony. With this, Habeck gives wings to the election campaign of his party friends, who would like to be involved in a state government in Lower Saxony.

It is this detail that proves Habeck’s cheap tactics. Thanks to Habeck, the Greens there now have a nice new message for the electorate: The pressurized water reactor in Lingen in Emsland, good for 1,300 megawatts of electricity, will go offline as promised at the end of the year thanks to the nuclear phase-out party. That’s not even my opinion, but that of the FDP, the coalition partner of the Greens in the Berlin traffic light government.

How does FDP man Johannes Vogel say it? “Habeck’s emergency reserve is a step, but also appears as a political emergency exit.” And Stefan Birkner, liberal top candidate in Lower Saxony, Habeck’s “emergency reserve” is far from enough. Birkner would not have been satisfied with a “stretching operation” either. He demanded that new fuel rods be bought for the last reactor in Lower Saxony, because: “The current electricity prices can no longer be sustained.” However, Habeck had long tried to ignore the galloping electricity prices: Germany does not have an electricity problem, but a gas problem.

Which is obviously wrong, otherwise retailers wouldn’t have to be ordered by law to switch off the shop lights after ten o’clock in the evening. If Germany didn’t have an electricity problem, the cities wouldn’t have to be darkened at night. That is why the liberals – and the Union forerunners Friedrich Merz and Markus Söder – announced early on that every kilowatt hour of electricity now counts. Johannes Vogel: “It is a matter of common sense to enable every climate-neutral kilowatt hour now.”

Speaking of the Union – what would Chancellor Merz have done differently from Chancellor Scholz, for example in a Jamaica coalition in which Habeck would also have sat as climate minister? Made Germany’s energy security a top priority, set up an energy crisis management team in the Chancellery, decided the matter by means of policy competence and then asked the Bundestag a vote of confidence?

You have to realize that you can’t answer a question like this any clearer than Merz. What you are with the incumbent Chancellor. What opposition leader Merz wants to say: If the lights go out in Germany this winter, it will not only be Habeck’s fault, but also the Chancellor’s. After all, he could have prevented this horror. But Olaf Scholz stayed out – once again.

What could still be dangerous for his coalition, because: Greens (and SPD) question the debt brake, but taboo the nuclear phase-out. In doing so, they privilege their own taboo subject in order to break the taboo subject of the liberals. Government coalitions have already failed because of less.

What is still interesting about Habeck’s emergency reserve decision: Two women had walled in the most popular Green as a precaution – Annalena Baerbock, when she declared every “roll backwards” in nuclear power shortly before the result of Habeck’s stress test as “insane”. And the Green Party leader, Ricarda Lang, who categorically asserted that Germany’s security of supply would be guaranteed even without electricity from nuclear power plants.

She may even be right if: The French nuclear power plants, half of which are currently undergoing safety checks, go back on the grid quickly, France will be able to supply its nuclear power again to its German neighbors who are fixated on the phase-out. And, who knows, maybe Ukraine – despite the threat to the nuclear power plant in Zaporizhia – will manage to deliver nuclear-powered electricity to Germany, which President Valodymyr Zelenskyi has offered.

Because one thing is clear: Nuclear power is just as bad per se for the Greens as fracking gas – it just can’t come from Germany. Sometimes the Europeans deliver, sometimes the Americans. And Germany remains the immaculate green idyll, or, as the time commented: “La-la-Land”.

One more thought, as a question: how do you actually want to convince the citizens to save energy if the federal government itself does not do “whatever it takes” to preserve Germany’s energy security? Because Germany’s prosperity depends on it. In any case, from now on, after this decision in Berlin, it will no longer be possible to say: Putin alone is to blame.