Even without counting the nearby Black Forest, the Bavarian Forest in southwest Germany is Europe’s largest wooded mountain region. The capital, Berlin, (population 3.5 million) is Europe’s largest and greenest city: parks, forests, and lakes make up 30% of it.
Renewable energy: to bring about a 40% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020, the government aims to increase the percentage of electricity generated by renewable energy sources to 30% from the current 27%.
In addition to Freiburg, with its world-renowned sustainable district Vauban, Marburg has also garnered attention for its by-law enforcing the installation of solar panels for air and water heating in all renovated roofs and new homes (1 m² per 20 m² surface area). Violators will be fined.
Nuclear issues: despite pledges to eliminate nuclear energy by 2020, 17 nuclear power plants provide 26% of domestic electricity. Nuclear waste storage is unregulated: in 2008, caesium 137 was discovered in a converted salt mine in Lower Saxony.
Automobiles: compulsory car emissions stickers are required to drive in some of the country’s endangered natural areas. Additionally, Cologne recently inaugurated a four hectare “car-free” neighbourhood; 95% of residents claim to be satisfied with the results.
In Germany, a veritable bastion of the environmental movement, innovative ideas arising from the grassroots level are not uncommon. For example, some citizens produce their own energy. In accordance with the federal Electricity Feed Law regulating on-grid electricity supplies, energy distributors and providers must buy back energy produced by any renewable means at a competitive price.
Umweltbank, literally the “Environment Bank”, offers customers a variety of financial products that take into account various ecological and ethical criteria.