I’m heading abroad to Berlin in a few weeks, so I wanted write my last Student’s Corner blog post (for a few months) about sustainability in Germany. Germany is actually a world leader in green technology, is home to an enormous number of sustainable companies, and can serve as a great model for the future policies and sustainable developments of other countries.
Germany’s energy policy, for starters, was designed to be sustainable, integrated, and cost competitive. In 2000, The Renewable Energy Sources Act led the country to invest in solar, biomass, and wind energies, which has provided hundreds of thousands of new jobs. This plan includes a cap and trade system, as well as an energy tax reform. More than 84% of German citizens are in support of the push towards renewable energy. Renewable energy producers have a guaranteed minimum, making them more desirable and successful. Berlin especially has many sustainable structures, including green roofs. In addition to energy savings, storm water runoff management, and other benefits, many find these roofs to be visually appealing, especially in urban areas. Permeable pavement is also common there, further helping to handle runoff.
Due to taxes and regulations, people tend to own smaller and fewer automobiles. Biking is common all over Germany, aided by many bike lanes, cycling-only paths, plenty of places to park bikes, and widespread support for cycling as a mode of transportation. Additionally, Germany’s buses are timely, popular, and free for students. Almost all cities have new buses or metro systems. I will personally be riding the Berlin city bus daily to get to my classes, so I’m excited to gain a firsthand perspective on the public transportation. All of this has decreased per capita emissions dramatically in Germany. Finally, German is currently a world leader in recycling, boasting a 70% reuse and recovery rate of all waste.
Written by Leslie Wolf, Class of 2015