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Merkel protege struggles with Germany’s green revolution via Reuters

(Reuters) – Chancellor Angela Merkel appointed him for his charm and political skill as marshal of her vision of a ‘green revolution’ in Europe’s biggest power market. A year on, Peter Altmaier finds himself spurned by many environmentalists, disdained by industry and viewed cooly by a public wary of the costs.

Now, the chancellor herself seems to be turning her back on him, an increasingly isolated figure, as September polls near.

Merkel’s ambitious goal of weaning Germany off fossil fuels and phasing out nuclear power is widely viewed as her most significant domestic policy. Implementation is a mammoth task and means taking decisions unpopular either with Germany’s powerful industry or its strong green lobby.

Altmaier, who had impressed Merkel in quashing turmoil in her conservative party over euro zone bailouts, has become a lightning rod for dissatisfaction over the costs of an energy policy long central to her domestic agenda.

Merkel has maintained a high personal popularity rating, far higher than her party’s, and kept the peace in her centre-right coalition; but in so doing she has made his job harder, staying silent on some of his more controversial, but much-needed ideas such as reining in subsidies for renewables.

“He’s been remarkably active and good at focusing on the message but he’s had difficulty building the bridges he wanted to. Not everybody is behind Peter Altmaier,” said Miranda Schreurs, member of a government environment advisory panel.

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