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BERLIN (Reuters) - Strong growth in Germany's renewable energy sector along with increased state spending for environment protection could help shorten the country's worst post-war recession, the government said on Tuesday.
Deputy environment minister Astrid Klug said there were now 250,000 jobs in Germany's renewable energies sector and an overall total of 1.8 million in environmental protection. The number of jobs in renewables will triple by 2020 and hit 900,000 by 2030.
"Investments in climate protection can help us get out of this crisis faster," Klug told a news conference to present a government report on the job prospects of climate protection.
"The renewable energies sector is in the midst of a highly dynamic development. We want to maintain our world leadership in technology. Climate protection is a real job motor for Germany."
The report said the government would spend 5.5 billion euros ($7.05 billion) on environmental protection this year. It has also earmarked parts of its 50-billion euro stimulus package to improve energy efficiency and entice owners of old cars to scrap them.
The German government aims to reduce its emissions of carbon dioxide by 40 percent from 1990 levels by 2020. The renewable energy sector aims to triple its share of power generation to 47 percent by 2020. Its share stood at 15.1 percent in 2008.
Klug said the ambitious targets were fueled by a desire to remain ahead of other countries, especially the United States.
She said Germany did not want to lose its lead in renewables, opened up 10 years ago by laws promoting the sector, to the United States -- even though new U.S. President Barack Obama has vowed to invest heavily in them.
"We're to stay ahead of the pack," she said.
Reporting by Franziska Scheven