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    WWF Position on NS 2 Ambivalent: Reports

Summary

The Russian branch of the WWF is not opposed to the building of Nord Stream 2 (NS 2) as long as the route does not cross the Kurgal park in the Leningrad region.

by: William Powell

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WWF Position on NS 2 Ambivalent: Reports

The Russian branch of the WWF is not opposed to the building of Nord Stream 2 (NS 2) as long as the route does not cross the Kurgal park in the Leningrad region.

Gazprom and the WWF have accused each other of exaggerating or downplaying the risk of crossing the protected region and now the matter is subject of an impact assessment by the government. Gazprom has apparently not yet offered an alternative route, but WWF's Alexei Knizhnikov told RIA Novosti in a January 12 article that the project is otherwise fine, and the charity has no claims against it.

In Germany however, the environmental charity is urging the premier, Angela Merkel, to stop her support for the project, according to media reports January 12.

WWF and German green group Nabu have written to the her as well as CSU chairman Horst Seehofer, and SPD leader Martin Schulz urging them to distance themselves from the project, as it will lock in fossil fuel use in Germany as well as endanger the Baltic seabed, according to Berlin daily newspaper Tagesspiegel. Its article quoted the letter saying the project had committed “obvious procedural errors," including the lack of transparency in public participation as well as revealing "frighteningly close political-economic ties in the development of Nord Stream 2." It said these "ran counter to the credibility of German politics and promoted the disenchantment of the German population with politics."

Merkel's CDU, along with its sister Bavarian party CSU and the centre-left SPD reached agreement in principle early January 12 to form a 'grand coalition' government, but it appears this will sacrifice elements of Germany's climate agenda in order to secure enough support. The CDU/CSU and SPD have governed in coalition before only in 1966-69, in 2005-09, and since 2013 (pending the new government taking office) - the latter two periods both under Merkel. Germany's economy and energy minister Brigitte Zypries (SPD) wanted to retire after the September election, but remains in office until the new government takes charge.

Gerhard Schroder (SPD), who preceded Merkel as chancellor from 1998 to 2005, is chairman of the successful first 55bn m³/yr Nord Stream line and became chairman of Russian state Rosneft last year. He is also a close friend of Russia's president Vladimir Putin and will reportedly, along with former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, endorse his candidacy as an independent in a film now being prepared for his campaign. The election is on March 18 and Putin is expected to win.