Prize question: What connects a dark zebra crossing at night in Tübingen with the spectacular American success in nuclear fusion? Answer: The Greens. Because they reject both. Although it is about climate protection.
No, Robert Habeck has not yet replied to the fire letter that Boris Palmer wrote to him. It’s only been two days and Habeck has a lot of work, it is said respectfully in the town hall of Tübingen, where Palmer was recently reinstated by the people with more than 52 percent of the voters.
Now Palmer has been elected for eight years, and this is one of the few cases in which one can determine whether a politician really kept his word. Because Palmer has promised to make his city carbon neutral by 2030. And then he’s still in office. If he makes it, nothing should stand in the way of the re-election of the then 58-year-old. Palmer would be the most successful climate politician in Germany.
Most of the Greens don’t like Palmer, one of them tweeted after his election success that the AfD was now providing the first mayor of a German city. And now Palmer is again in trouble with the Greens, after the attempt to throw him out of the party, which was also called for by the then Green Party chairwoman Annalena Baerbock, failed. Ironically, it is now about climate protection.
Palmer turns off the street lights in Tübingen at night, between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m., four days a week. What saves ten percent of electricity is quite a lot when you consider that, according to Robert Habeck, “every kilowatt hour” counts. But not every Green apparently shares Habeck’s goal.
And so the Baden-Württemberg Minister of Transport, Winfried Hermann (Greens), instructed Palmer, well: to turn on the light again. Unfortunately for Palmer, Hermann has the law on his side, more precisely: the “Guidelines for the construction and equipment of pedestrian crossings”. And they say mercilessly: “There are no exceptions to the lighting obligation. The road construction authority can neither refer to technical obstacles nor to energy saving intentions.”
Palmer is upset. The Green State Minister Hermann insists on outdated regulations, in the 1950s nobody knew anything about climate protection and Vladimir Putin was also a few decades away from attacking Ukraine. How to create climate protection and digitization with such a prevention mentality is a mystery to Palmer. Hence his call for help to Robert Habeck.
You have to understand Palmer. The man is constantly passed through the talk shows as a green rebel, although his main job is a climate protection maker. No German city is trimmed so intensively towards climate neutrality as the tranquil city of the romantic poet Friedrich Hölderlin.
At least that’s how Palmer sees himself, but he has good arguments on his side. This starts with the solar roof requirement for new buildings and does not end with the drastic parking fees for SUVs and the new parking garage for bicycles in the city center. The new fire station is made of wood, that’s no arsonist joke. But climate protection. In the near future, Palmer only wants to have wooden houses built in Tübingen.
And he would like to trust the few Tübingen residents who roam the streets in the morning dew around three thirty to decide when to cross an unlit zebra crossing. In general, Palmer’s relationship to German regulations is: tackle first – if common sense dictates.
However, trusting in technical solutions, especially when it comes to solving human problems, is atypical for the Greens. Rather, that is liberal, as the applause from the FDP leadership for the nuclear success in the United States shows. FDP Research Minister Stark-Watzinger enthusiastically calls for nuclear fusion in Germany as well and Christian Lindner is fundamental: “The US breakthrough in nuclear fusion contains a message for us: We need more joy in inventing and getting involved than in banning and getting out.”
The next fundamental dispute is now threatening with the Greens – and again it is about the atom. The Greens are against everything nuclear, it’s enough that the word “core” appears in it. It’s easy to find scoffers on the internet, they say: If the Greens knew that apples had seeds, they would long since phase out apples from this high-risk fruit.
In any case, one cannot deny that the Greens have a certain persistence when it comes to their favorite topic. For eleven years now they have been trying to prevent nuclear fusion, specifically:
To shut down the international fusion research project Iter. The main argument of the Greens for a long time:
Nuclear fusion comes far too late, by then the world must have been climate-neutral long ago. And that’s why every penny that goes into expensive fusion research is wasted money. Theoretically, this may even be true, even the US government declared after the current breakthrough in nuclear fusion that it could be another forty years before this technology could be put to practical use.
The Greens argue that the future lies with renewable energies – and exclusively. The problem with this is that the Greens are pretty much alone with this view, even in Europe, let alone in the rest of the world. Nobody in the world has any intention of copying the German energy transition, as far as we have been able to research.
The Iter project is supported by 27 nations, the Americans and Indians are involved and nobody is thinking of leaving. On the contrary: More and more private companies are getting involved in the nuclear issue because they believe they can do it better and faster than the state. And because they hope to be able to earn a lot of money with the copy of the sun – nuclear fusion is nothing else. That’s why Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, for example, are involved in private fusion research.
If you want it political: The Greens have to decide whether they trust their ideology and apocalyptic climate stickers more than engineers, go-getters and optimists. In any case, sometimes the distance between an unlit zebra crossing in Tübingen and a fusion reactor in California is smaller than you think.
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