New German minister to reduce energy efficiency commitments

This past weekend, German Chancellor Angela Merkel unveiled her new grand coalition government. The new cabinet was formed after months of negotiations between the more conservative and liberal wings of the Democratic Party, but a compromise was eventually reached. The new administration is to be sworn in on Tuesday. One of the more interesting development's in Chancellor Merkel's new coalition is the reformed energy ministry, which was combined with economic policy, to be headed under a "super minister" and vice chancellor.

By streamlining these two governmental departments, it is the hope that any conflicts between economic and environmental policy can be dealt with and eliminated. Putting these two powers under the leadership of a person who champions industry over climate concerns underlines Merkel's commitment to the economy of Germany.

Social Democratic Party (SDP) Chairman Sigmar Gabriel, who was the environment minister under Merkel from 2005 to 2009, will take over this expanded role. The new minister is to oversee Germany's continuing transition from nuclear power to alternative sources of energy, but renewable energy is not on the agenda.

Chariman Gabriel has long believed in slowing down the expansion of renewable energy resources because of the rising energy prices in the country. The SDP is a very strong supporter of Germany's coal industry, a tie that many proponents of renewable energy fear will further diminish the government's commitment to clean sources. The SDP, which was gotten major support from the coal industry, has already gotten the new coalition government to agree to support the use of brown coal, which is one of the most polluting forms of this mineral, to help combat the skyrocketing energy prices in the country.

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