The Domestic Politics of German Unification

By Christopher Anderson; Karl Kaltenthaler et al. | Go to book overview

Conclusion

This chapter was an attempt to tie together the environmental policy process of the GDR, its failure in maintaining healthy environmental standards, and recent policies established for rectifying the environmental situation in the former territory of the GDR. Despite the disappearance of many facets of the East German environmental situation, some will persist for years to come. Because the eastern portion of Germany's environmental problems are the sum of an aggregation of factors, it will require a medley of remedies to deal with them.

As the process of German economic, political, and social integration gains momentum and the two portions of Germany struggle to create a common society, the issue of living standards will play an important role. Because environmental conditions are an intrinsic part of a society's standard of living, it is certain that environmental issues will command an important place in the politics of the unified Germany.

The legacy of years of East German environmental mismanagement cannot be overcome in a short time span. It took years to develop into its present state, and it will take years to remedy it. The most important factors in determining the scope and pace of the cleanup effort are the priorities of the German populace and the financial resources available to pay for the job. The German government may be willing to run up deficits in the short run but such spending will not become a habit. Considering the long-term nature of cleaning up the environmental problems in the eastern Länder, there is a distinct possibility that the willingness to spend for the East's environmental problems may taper off. But we may remain certain that the environmental problems in East Germany will not disappear as important public policy issues.


Notes
1.
Der Spiegel 12, 1990: 134.
2.
Rheinische Post, May 10, 1990, 12.
3.
Der Spiegel 46, 1989: 48.
4.
See DeBardeleben 1985a, 176-182, for a more in-depth discussion of the Club of Rome's position.
5.
Verfassung der DDR 1968, 17.
6.
The ministry was given this name in 1990. It was previously known as the Ministry for Environmental Protection and Water Management.
7.
Such instances were related to the author in interviews with environmental experts in the GDR.
8.
See Kommentar zur Verordnung über die Gewährleistung von Atomsicherheit und Strahlenschutz. 1987. Berlin: Staatsverlag der DDR.
9.
Neues Deutschland, January 12, 1990, 3.
10.
"Interview mit Peter Diederich", Der Spiegel 2, 1990: 133.

-202-

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