Since 2005 the Chancellor of Germany has been Angela Merkel of the CDU, the Christian Democrats, the conservatives, a party which has very much in common with the Republicans in the US, including, traditionally, a very cozy relationship with the petrochemical industry and the disdain for less-poisonous forms of energy generation which goes with that relationship. But Merkel broke dramatically with that position. She has supported a massive change to green energy. When she took office as Chancellor in 2005, the percentage of electricity in Germany generated by renewable means was around 10%, in 2011 it was over 20%, as we speak it's over 25% and growing fast. By comparison, when W was "elected" in 2000, a little less than 9.5% percent of the electricity in the US was generated by renewable means, and when Obama was elected in 2008 the percentage was about exactly the same. Now it's somewhere between 12.5 and 15% and growing, which is definitely a nice improvement, but Barack, of the more forward-leaning, progressive, green-friendly of the major parties in the US, is not even close to keeping up with the conservative, traditionalist Angela when it comes to being green. What's going on here? Are Germans just more intelligent?
No. I've been to Germany, and believe me, they're just as stupid as anyone else. But they have something that we don't have: (I feel like the Wizard of Oz here) proportional representation. In Germany, any party polling over 5% in an election gets a share of the national, statewide or local legislature chosen in that election, and since it hardly ever happens that one party gets over 50% of the vote, they have to come up with a coalition of parties of over 50%, and that coalition forms the administration. One of the things this means is that in Germany, (or France, or Belgium, or Italy, or Norway, or Finland, or a lot of other countries) if you vote Green, you're not throwing your vote away. This in turn means that a lot more people vote Green in countries with proportional representation than here in the US with our quaint antiquated winner-take-all system, although popular support for renewable energy is as strong here as elsewhere. And in turn that means that no political party in those countries can ignore the Greens anymore. Not even the Christian Democrats in Germany, the party of Helmut Kohl, appropriately named because Kohl means coal and traditionally the Christian Democrats have just looooooved coal and been paid very well to do so. Even before he retired back in 1998, Kohl was forced to say publicly that the Greens weren't so bad, something which sounded downright bizarre coming from him, something which since then Christian Democrats say quite often, especially when they're not getting along so well with the Social Democrats. The Greens have made it into national administrations in quite a few countries as the junior partner of the Social Democrats (Joschka Fischer, the most prominent single German Green politician so far, was Gerhard Schroeder's Foreign Minister and Vice-Chancellor from 1998 to 2005), into state and local administrations in coalitions with the Social Democrats and with others, sometimes in coalitions with the Christian Democrats, (or whatever the conservative party is called in a particular country) sometimes in coalitions of three or more parties, as the senior partner in some places, and the next Chancellor of Germany could conceivably be a Green. That's the sort of thing that can happen in a country with a political system which lets you vote for a third or forth or fifth party without throwing your vote away.
The sort of system we don't have yet, remember, so first things first: vote for Obama if you haven't yet, and for every other Democrat you can; and then support a Constitutional amendment to let you vote Green if you want to, or Socialist or Pirate or (shudder) Libertarian -- there are Libertarians (Free Democrats, they're called) in the Bundestag along with the Christian Democrats and Social Democrats and Leftists and Greens, and Pirates will surely be in the next one, elected next year -- or anyone else you might happen to like better than the candidate put up by either the Democrats or the Republicans, without throwing your vote away. Imagine such a thing.