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Who’s the world’s leading eco-vandal? It’s Angela Merkel

September 21, 2017

By Paul Homewood


Monbiot unloads on Merkel!


Which living person has done most to destroy the natural world and the future wellbeing of humanity? Donald Trump will soon be the correct answer, when the full force of his havoc has been felt. But for now I would place another name in the frame: Angela Merkel.

What? Have I lost my mind? Angela Merkel, the “climate chancellor”? The person who, as German environment minister, brokered the first UN climate agreement, through sheer force of will? The chancellor who persuaded the G7 leaders to promise to phase out fossil fuels by the end of this century? The architect of Germany’s Energiewende – its famous energy transition? Yes, the very same.

Unlike Trump, she has no malicious intent. She did not set out to destroy the agreements she helped to create. But the Earth’s systems do not respond to mission statements or speeches or targets. They respond to hard fact. What counts, and should be judged, as she seeks a fourth term as German chancellor in the elections on Sunday, is what is done, not what is said. On this metric, her performance has been a planetary disaster.

Merkel has a fatal weakness: a weakness for the lobbying power of German industry. Whenever a crucial issue needs to be resolved, she weighs her ethics against political advantage, and chooses the advantage. This, in large part, is why Europe now chokes in a fug of diesel fumes.

The EU decision to replace petrol engines with diesel, though driven by German car manufacturers, predates her premiership. It was a classic European fudge, a means of averting systemic change while creating an impression of action, based on the claim (which now turns out to be false) that diesel engines produce less carbon dioxide than petrol. But once she became chancellor, Merkel used every conceivable tactic, fair and foul, to preserve this deadly cop-out.

The worst instance was in 2013, when, after five years of negotiations, other European governments had finally agreed a new fuel economy standard for cars: they would produce an average of no more than 95g of CO2 per km by 2020. Merkel moved in to close the whole thing down.

She is alleged to have threatened the then president of the European council, Irish taoiseach Enda Kenny, with the cancellation of Ireland’s bailout funds. She told the Netherlands and Hungary the German car plants in their countries would be closed. She struck a filthy deal with David Cameron, offering to frustrate European banking regulations if he helped her to block the fuel regulations. Through these brutal strategies, she managed to derail the agreement. The €700,000 donation her party then received from the major shareholders in BMW does not suggest they were unhappy with what she had achieved.

In 2014, the European commission wrote to the German government, warning that the air pollution caused by diesel engines was far higher than its manufacturers were claiming. The government ignored the warning. Even now, two years after the dieselgate scandal broke, Merkel has continued to defend diesel engines, announcing that “we will use all our power to prevent” German cities from banning them, and stifling the transition to electric cars. The “mistake” made by the diesel manufacturers, she insists, “doesn’t give us the right to deprive the entire industry of its future”. Instead, her policy deprives thousands of people of their lives.

But this could be the least of the environmental disasters she has engineered. For this lethal concession to German car companies was predated by an even worse one, in 2007. In that case, her blunt refusal – supported by the usual diplomatic bullying – to accept proposed improvements in engine standards forced the European commission to find another means of reducing greenhouse gases. It chose, disastrously, to replace fossil fuel with biofuels, a switch Merkel has vociferously defended.

Merkel and the European commission ignored repeated warnings that the likely consequences would include malnutrition and massive environmental destruction, as land was converted from forests or food crops to fuel production. The European biofuel rule is now a major driver of one of the world’s greatest environmental disasters: the razing of the Indonesian rainforests and their replacement with oil palm.

While greenhouse gas emissions in other European nations have fallen sharply, in Germany they have plateaued

Not only has this wiped out vast and magnificent ecosystems, and the orangutans, tigers, rhinos, gibbons and thousands of other species they supported; but it has also, by burning trees and oxidising peat, caused emissions far higher than those produced by fossil fuels. What makes this history especially bitter is that the target she derailed in 2007 was the one that had first been proposed, in 1994, by a German environment minister called – let me think – ah yes, Angela Merkel.

Is this the worst? It is hard to rank such crimes against the biosphere, but perhaps the most embarrassing is Germany’s shocking failure, despite investing hundreds of billions of euros, to decarbonise its electricity system. While greenhouse gas emissions in other European nations have fallen sharply, in Germany they have plateaued.

The reason is, once more, Merkel’s surrender to industrial lobbyists. Her office has repeatedly blocked the environment ministry’s efforts to set a deadline for an end to coal power. Coal, especially lignite, which vies with Canadian tar sands for the title of the world’s dirtiest fuel, still supplies 40% of Germany’s electricity. Because Merkel refuses to restrict its use, the peculiar impact of Germany’s Energiewende programme has been to cut the price of electricity, stimulating a switch from natural gas to lignite, which is cheaper. (In Germany they call this the Energiewende paradox). But Merkel doesn’t seem to care. She has announced that “coal will remain a pillar of German energy supply for a prolonged time span”.

Shouldn’t the European emissions trading system have sorted this out, pricing coal power out of the market? Yes, it should. But it was sabotaged in 2006 by a German politician, who insisted that so many permits be issued to industry that the price fell through the floor. I think you can probably guess who.

All these are real impacts, while the paper agreements she helped to broker have foundered and dissipated as a result of special favours and dirty deals of the kind I have listed in this article. Yet still she attracts an aura of sanctity. This is quite an achievement, for the world’s leading environmental vandal.

  1. jim permalink
    September 21, 2017 12:53 pm

    Don’t think so. If he means that German industry continues to be hugely subsidized by the residential sector, then that is true. But it was ever so. Germany is a rapacious, mercantile society.

  2. jim permalink
    September 21, 2017 12:55 pm

    Dont think so, relates to ‘ the peculiar impact of Germany’s Energiewende programme has been to cut the price of electricity’.

  3. Tim permalink
    September 21, 2017 1:00 pm


    • dave permalink
      September 21, 2017 1:20 pm

      A plague on both their houses!

      • Paddy permalink
        September 22, 2017 6:24 am

        When thieves fall out …

  4. September 21, 2017 1:03 pm

    “Merkel has a fatal weakness: a weakness for the lobbying power of German industry.”

    Maybe that’s because, George, Energiewende and its green-energy hell has all but destroyed Germany’s industrial heartland, seen hundreds of thousands of citizens disconnected from the grid and even had Germans stealing wood from the Black Forest to stay warm.

    It’s easy to pontificate from the comfort of your Guardian ottoman, suckling on champagne, eating grapes while dreaming of deindustrialisation.

    Do, however, agree with the palm oil for biofuel EU mandate scandal, raping SE Asian forests. Have seen it w my own eyes.

    • Sheri permalink
      September 21, 2017 1:49 pm

      Environmentalists rarely look at the big picture. If palm oil, or corn, or whatever is mandated, the price goes up, the demand goes up and desperately poor people and economically savvy people dive in. Ethanol wiped out conservation easements in many places in America. Corn made more money than what was paid to the owner to not farm (yeah, that does sound crazy to pay people not to farm…..). As I have noted when writing on conservation, the ONLY way you save areas as natural, preserve areas of beauty and so forth is to make them pay their way. If the land has no value as a preserve or a park, it will become a farm or a mall. That is a truth that cannot be avoided. Ignoring it just leads to no preservation being done.

      • September 21, 2017 1:58 pm

        Roger that, but so many destructive deeds to flora and fauna, with no benefit, done by virtue-signaling politicians in the name of “saving the planet”.
        Wrecking the planet to save it – kinda hypocritical.

    • Streetcred permalink
      September 22, 2017 4:27 am

      ‘Flip-flopping’ policy is a political art form in Deutschland and doesn’t carry the same level of disdain in the rest of the civilised world.

  5. September 21, 2017 1:05 pm

    Why should anyone be surprised at this article. After all it was Merkel who banned nuclear power after the Japanese disaster ! She is a rogue leader who should be replaced asap !

  6. September 21, 2017 1:37 pm

    How weird to see the greens drowning in their own green-ness.

  7. Simon from Ashby permalink
    September 21, 2017 1:42 pm

    “The European biofuel rule is now a major driver of one of the world’s greatest environmental disasters” – The damage environmentalists do the environment.

  8. September 21, 2017 1:56 pm

    Angela Merkel is an ex communist and so naturally goes to central planning with the interests of the state elite the number one priority. No surprise then that the central planning did not work since it never works and that the result is much more pollution just as in all the communist countries.
    Trump will do much better because he will let America’s entrepreneurs come up with better solutions. Note the USA does not have a diesel problem and it has replaced coal with home produced cheap natural gas. It has done it without imposing on the rest of the world and still exports lots of food.

    • Nigel S permalink
      September 21, 2017 2:33 pm

      But Central Planning produced the Trabant!

      • Joe Public permalink
        September 21, 2017 4:40 pm

        And the Stasi

    • billbedford permalink
      September 22, 2017 7:44 am

      But all US corporation are centrally planned economies.

  9. September 21, 2017 2:05 pm

    3pm news : Greenpeace kayaks on Thames trying to turn around ship full of VW diesels

  10. Alan Haile permalink
    September 21, 2017 2:25 pm

    And she got light bulbs banned !!

  11. Nigel S permalink
    September 21, 2017 2:34 pm

    Her history of deposing her mentors is impressive too.

  12. Nigel S permalink
    September 21, 2017 2:37 pm

    ‘Oh, what a tangled web we weave
    When first we practise to deceive!’

    (My paternal grandfather’s favourite)

    • September 21, 2017 6:26 pm

      “But when we’ve practiced for a bit,
      We make a decent job of it.”

      (This grandfather’s favourite ripost. 🙂 )

      • Nigel S permalink
        September 21, 2017 8:40 pm

        Except that Merkel has made a complete b*lls of far too many things in pursuit of her own interest and nobody is fooled unless they want to be.

  13. Tim Hammond permalink
    September 21, 2017 3:39 pm

    i find it hard to actually dislike Monbiot for some reason. He gets just about everything wrong and he fails to understand how his own campaigns and writing cause bad stuff (like the terrible things in Indonesia) but at least he is sort of honest.

    But in what way is Trump “malicious” in terms of the environment? This constant need the Left has to claim that people on the Right oppose them because they are evil is so utterly childish.

    • HotScot permalink
      September 21, 2017 7:30 pm


      I like Monbiot immensely, when he sticks to his chosen profession, Zoology. My daughters a newly qualified Zoologist and I encouraged her to read some of his stuff when she was studying, especially on his well informed logic on the causes of regional flooding; frequently caused by run off from compacted, treeless hillsides reserved for sheep. His observations on altering the natural meanderings of rivers by dredging are also interesting.

      When he veers off into politics I just can’t read his confused drivel e.g. “based on the claim (which now turns out to be false) that diesel engines produce less carbon dioxide than petrol.”

      That’s not my understanding George. I believe diesels are being banned because they emit NO2? (science isn’t my strong point) and particulates, because they contribute’ to 40,000 deaths in the UK, shortening lives by, perhaps, a day or so, or some such other speculative indeterminable amount.

      The fact that a diesel engine is 25% more efficient than a petrol engine simply whizzes over the heads of green zealots; we use less, transport less, store less, and it’s much cheaper to refine than petrol. In short, we use 25% (and more) less of the planets oil reserves.

      And I note form a comment above, and the BBC news today, Greenpeace have disrupted a ship transporting diesel vehicles into Tilbury Docks 5 minutes from me. The detrimental effects from diesel manifests itself in inner cities, not the countryside. Nor does it kill whales, baby seals or polar bears, so WTF is Greenpeace doing sticking their green nose into the subject.

      I seriously considered going down to the docks to berate the green twats but I know I couldn’t get close to where they were. Perhaps I’ll arrange a banner on the Dartford Bridge “Go Home Greenpeace”. Although perhaps not so politely!

      • Colin permalink
        September 22, 2017 7:19 am

        Dunno about the exact impact of cars but I can tell you that marine diesels are very dirty, and the forced parking of that ship isn’t going to help the local air quality. Of course Greenpeace tubs burn the same high sulfur bunker oil.

      • billbedford permalink
        September 22, 2017 7:49 am

        The fact that a diesel engines are 25% more efficient that a petrol one just means the government get 25% more fuel tax.

      • HotScot permalink
        September 22, 2017 12:42 pm

        Governments get 25% less tax revenue from diesel use.

      • Anders Valland permalink
        September 22, 2017 8:31 am

        Colin, ‘marine diesles are very dirty’? Where on earth did you get that from? Marine diesels are way better in terms of thermodynamic efficiency than any road transport engines, and better than those on rails. You cannot confuse the single point emissions from a 5 MW power plant to the single point emission of a 80 kW car engine. If one were to imagine the 80% or so total global freight work done by ships to be done by road, you would see a 10-20 times increase in emissions. Even with rail you would see 2-4 times more.

      • Nordisch-geo-climber permalink
        September 22, 2017 9:05 am

        With respect Hot, MB knows eff all about upland flood mitigation. There is a heap of cr_p being talked about it here in the Lake District. Trees can have a highly negative impact, they descend just as easily with the water, and form dams at bridges, exacerbating flood effects, it has been known for hundreds of years. The first rule of O level geography is that meanders get short-circuited in a flood as the water goes straight to the scene of the accident. Much pontification is not based on practical cause and effect.

      • HotScot permalink
        September 22, 2017 1:04 pm

        A dredged, straightened river presents no natural obstacles to floodwater. Managed forests, cut back from the river bank, instead of barren hillsides, present obstructions to water cascading down hillsides and the topsoil isn’t compressed by sheep’s hooves restricting absorption of the rain.

        However, like the climate debate in general, there are a number of differing views and I suspect you are as correct as George is.

      • Gerry, England permalink
        September 22, 2017 12:56 pm

        He is a thin-skinned snowflake who was so precious that when he was addressing the Commons committee looking into the flooding he had Richard North banned from speaking even though he was outside waiting having travelled down from Yorkshire. Richard was going to shred his drivel on trees and flooding with some facts.

    • September 24, 2017 8:48 pm

      Funny, I don’t have any problem at all.

  14. September 21, 2017 4:14 pm

    I get the impression that the Moonbat doesn’t like the Donald.

    The Moonbat forgot to mention the thousands of square miles of good German farmland turned over to monoculture of maize to feed the thousands of anaerobic digesters.

    • September 22, 2017 11:01 am

      It seems as though a slap at President Donald John Trump has become obligatory to keep the respect of your fellow know-nothings. What a pity. It kept me from taking anything he had to say seriously.

      • Gerry, England permalink
        September 22, 2017 12:57 pm

        You are not missing anything, Joan.

  15. September 21, 2017 5:20 pm

    It’s a shame, frankly, that he intersperses his merkel argument with totally biased comments about Trump, who as this point, is emerging as one of the world’s great leaders. I agree with most of his attack on Merkel, who seems to be more apt at negotiating wind currents than Hillary Clinton — who has a moral code that is totally premised on public winds. It’s hard continue reading an article that insists on salting it with absurd comments about someone the writer obviously dislikes, but who has nothing to do with his theme.

    • HotScot permalink
      September 21, 2017 7:53 pm

      I’m glad someone else thinks Trump is doing well. I thought he was the best of a bad brace of final candidates. His persona repulsed me, and like many others, I thought he was a liar and an opportunist.

      I knew Clinton, like her philandering husband (the pair strike me as some type of sexual cult with her acceptance of his perverse womanising for their mutual political benefit) was a liar and manipulator so, reluctantly, I thought Trump couldn’t be any worse.

      Instead, he has surprised and impressed me. He has gone hell for leather to implement his manifesto promises, he’s directed his ire at the UN and Europe, and told Kim Jong Un precisely what the consequences of his actions will be.

      He talks the language of the man in the street, diplomacy only gets the world so far. At some point in time someone has to call ‘enough’ and make some meaningful decisions. Any decision, bad or good, is better than no decision.

      The West is being ruled by a legion of minorities, including N. Korea, and Trump seems to be the only one supporting the real meaning of concencus’, that of democracy, the only concencus that matters.

      • September 22, 2017 12:57 pm

        Thank you for your insightful remarks. About the time the infamous “tape” was made, Donald Trump decided his life-style was “sowing the seeds of his own destruction” and determined to change that. He decided that he wanted to have a stable marriage and concentrate on being a good father. He and Melania talked about all of this before they married. To me, this shows incredible self-discipline. When she says “that is not who my husband is,” she is correct. He already did not drink, nor smoke nor do drugs and never has. His children do not either although Don, Jr. has alluded to the fact that he had a brief fling with alcohol while in college, but no longer drinks. This leaves the media to whine about the fact that Donald gets 2 scoops of ice cream with dessert at White House dinners where alcohol is not served.

        He certainly is not what the “media” portrays. I watched his speech to the UN on my laptop and am not certain what the media were watching. I just loved his calling Kim Jong Un “Rocket Man.” The “elite” cannot abide that he is from Queens and not Manhattan. Although he did graduate from The Wharton School of Finance of The University of Pennsylvania and it is Ivy League, it is not Harvard or even Yale. He is plain spoken without the establishment elite “nuances” and that drives the elite batty. These are the reasons he was elected. He has been successful in real-estate and development world wide which has given him an incredible education into how things “work.” He has seen it up close and personal. He not only is highly intelligent, but has a native instinct about things and situations. This also drives the elite nuts–but it IS a short drive.

      • HotScot permalink
        September 22, 2017 1:25 pm


        I have also read comments from employees of his on blogs etc. which are in the main, entirely supportive of him. He encourages and welcomes female employees to climb the ladder of success and displays no prejudice between them and men. The only thing he demands is that people work damn hard, and he’ll reward them.

        I also noted very early that there has been no personal scandals and his family seem sane, well balanced and supportive.

        And Iv’e been in many locker rooms, the banter is crude and respects no target. But that’s where it’s left as men leave and return to their families. And I might add that women’s locker rooms are at least as bad, if not worse, my wife was an accomplished sportswoman and her tales made my hair curl.

        I have also said for many years we need businessmen to run countries, not conniving politicians with little talent beyond talking. Trump appears a doer, not a talker.

        As I think the saying goes; beware the quiet man, with the big stick.

  16. Jack Broughton permalink
    September 21, 2017 7:45 pm

    It is a sad fact that Germany has no real opposition party and re-elects the same leader until they retire. Rule by coalition is less confrontational than our system, but the leader’s power is magnified and challenges are rare – (similar to Russia). She will be re-elected despite the havoc that she has caused in Germany.

    • Gerry, England permalink
      September 22, 2017 1:00 pm

      It will be interesting to see how AfD do this time but there is no outstanding candidate to oust Merkel even though she has been useless throughout her time. A dearth of talent seems to be commonplace – who will replace Theresa May next month that we will have any confidence in?

  17. martinbrumby permalink
    September 21, 2017 9:48 pm

    I have utter contempt for Merkel and for Monbiot.
    Arrogant, hubristic, mendacious idiots, the pair of them.

    • 1saveenergy permalink
      September 22, 2017 5:54 am

      I wish you’d say what you mean instead of sitting on the fence (:-))

    • September 22, 2017 11:03 am

      You should put that as a form with blanks for the names to be filled in by us.

      • Gerry, England permalink
        September 22, 2017 1:00 pm

        We could be here a long time filling in the blanks.

  18. Colin permalink
    September 22, 2017 7:32 am

    Say what you like about George but least there’s some consistency in his convictions, he’s foreswarn air travel, and doesn’t move from his Welsh eco yurt except by bicycle. And he supports nuclear power, so he’s capable of joined up thinking. He also deviates from leftist fawning over Merkel.
    This elevation of Merkel to secular sainthood interests me since she is, at least nominally, a conservative politician. What it shows that the left often go beyond simplistic party terms, but what really angers them is when a conservative is actually a conservative. Any Tory to the right of Ruth Davidson is deemed beyond the pale.

    • Gerry, England permalink
      September 22, 2017 1:01 pm

      Davidson right wing? ROTFLMAO

  19. Bitter&twisted permalink
    September 22, 2017 8:41 am

    Just look at Moonbat’s mugshot.
    He is a caricature of a left-wing do-gooder.
    No wonder he writes drivel.

  20. September 22, 2017 9:26 am

    So Monbiot has discovered that German politicians put industrial success ahead of environmental point-scoring. Who knew?

  21. tom0mason permalink
    September 22, 2017 9:28 am

    Long live Merkel, Germany deserves her!

    • September 22, 2017 11:40 am

      But, do the rest of us deserve Germany? They are not in a vacuum.

      • tom0mason permalink
        September 22, 2017 3:33 pm

        No the rest of us do not deserve Germany, however we can learn to live with or without them and their corrupt green corporatist crony capitalism.

  22. M E Emberson. permalink
    September 24, 2017 8:25 am

    As to trees on slopes preventing flooding. It often happens in New Zealand that slips occur on steep hillsides even when they are forested and valley become choked with water backed up.
    Many slopes have a thin layer of topsoil on rock.
    So I think the answer lies in the soil.
    ( Beyond Our Ken,,,, Kenneth Williams as Arthur Fallowfield)

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