Referendum in Hamburg

Germany’s second-largest city held a referendum in 2013 which led to Hamburg buying back its power supply from the multinational energy giants Vattenfall and E.On. The Hamburg Unser Netz (Our Hamburg Our Grid) coalition of environmental, anti-poverty, and consumer rights groups – launched in 2010 – successfully argued that the city’s energy grid be brought under local ownership after its contracts with private companies had expired. Germany has pledged to move away from reliance on fossil fuels towards providing renewable energy sources for citizens (a plan known as Energiewende). This has led hundreds of neighbourhoods, in response to what they consider to be the inefficiencies of privatisation, seeking a “remunicipalisation” of public utilities and a transition to renewables.

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