Germany’s MPs have begun debating government proposals to ditch the country’s nuclear energy programme by the year 2022. The plan marks a U-turn by Chancellor Angela Merkel.
The opposition poured scorn on the government, who only last year extended the life of Germany’s atomic plants. But Merkel said things have changed.
“Last autumn I was committed to a longer life for German nuclear power plants as part of our wider energy project,” she said. “But today I say to this house without any ambiguity: Fukushima has changed my view on nuclear energy.”
In neighbouring Switzerland, MPs have already approved government plans to phase out the country’s atomic energy programme.
One of the most significant decisions was to refuse approval for any new nuclear plants.
A definitive decision on the five existing power stations will not be made for several months but the cabinet has already said it wants them closed when they reach the end of their life in 2034.
Parliament’s vote has opened a long discussion process on how Switzerland can best exit the world of nuclear energy.