Alice Weidel leads the AfD as part of a leading candidate duo with party leader Tino Chrupalla in the federal election. When it comes to the hot topic of climate change, she takes an outsider’s position – doubting, for example, the link between CO2 emissions and global warming. Katja Bauer spoke to her.
Free press: Mrs Weidel, forest fires in southern Europe and heavy rains lead here to disasters where people die. There are still leaders in your party who deny and joke about climate change. Do you think that’s okay?
Alice Weidel: I think in the discussion we need to make a fundamental distinction between what has to do with weather and climate. I was shocked by the flood images. But the climate issue is often mixed up in both the flood disaster and the fires, although in my view it has no place there. Floods have always been there. That’s what we’re dealing with. I think the climate issue is only being brought up to divert attention from political responsibility for the fact that we do not have a functioning disaster management system in Germany.
For science there is no question that disasters and extreme weather increase with climate change. Your colleagues deny that. AfD Vice Brandner recently wrote, “Are we really having a dry summer right now?” Again, is that acceptable to you?
Everyone has the right to evaluate the debate for themselves. It is not the AfD that is handling the issue in a non-objective manner; the discussion is rather ideologically charged. Today it is claimed that global warming is related to CO2 emissions. I find that difficult, it has not been proven.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change includes thousands of experts, evaluates thousands of studies and papers against defined criteria before submitting its report. Is that worth nothing to you?
We must, of course, hear the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. But scientists who do not share a certain direction do not have their say. What makes me skeptical is that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change itself says that its calculation models can still be subject to significant deviations and fluctuations.
Rather, he’s saying that they get more accurate over time.
In principle, I find the method difficult. Because the climate is not subject to linear laws, but to algorithms that we do not understand at all.
What does your party have in its program to respond to climate change?
First, we must conduct the debate objectively. Second, we demand that an energy mix of fossil fuels and nuclear is maintained until we have viable, sustainable solutions. Right now, everything that’s being done is just very mindless – you can’t just pull out all the stops and do something new, even if it doesn’t guarantee basic amenities. The state should have invested decades ago in research into alternative technologies. From my point of view it was overslept, especially in Germany.
Would you think it would be good for Germany to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement?
Yes, the way this agreement is structured makes no sense. Only the hypothesis that warming is related to CO2 emissions is controversial. Moreover, the agreement gives countries like China carte blanche to continue as before, while we go a separate way here, and it does not even yield anything. China has a share of 30 percent in global CO2 emissions, Germany less than two.
Another important topic for voters is Corona. If you were responsible, what would you do to protect people from being infected during the fourth wave of the pandemic?
I no longer believe in the different waves. When you look back on it, it was really pure scare tactics at times. At no point is the health system overwhelmed. In short, I stand by what I have always said. Just like with the flu, we just have to be careful and follow normal hygiene and distance rules. There should never be a lockdown again, we will not survive that, that will damage the economy and the location in the long term. We need to protect risk groups and look at how we can develop better vaccines in the long term. I find the discussion between unvaccinated and vaccinated people unfortunate because unvaccinated people are stigmatized.
Do you not think it is a fundamentally valuable goal that as many people as possible are vaccinated?
I believe that some groups of people do not need to be vaccinated at all because Corona is not dangerous for most people. We can treat it like a normal flu shot.
But we can already see that the vaccination is working, for example with regard to hospital admission figures.
There have been cases in retirement homes where people got sick and died right after vaccination, and breakthroughs in vaccinations are also verifiable. In the UK, 40 percent of those vaccinated have a severe course.
Are you trying to frame the AfD as a party of vaccine skeptics?
No, but we clearly rely on voluntariness and personal responsibility. Everyone should be able to decide for themselves.
What do you think – why is Corona the first major crisis since the founding of the AfD, which does not benefit the party?
That is an absolutely strategically important question. Unlike the FDP, which takes a very different approach, we cannot benefit from the skepticism against the corona measures. We miss the media boost from which the FDP benefits. But we also need to touch our own nose. Some things are perceived as questionable in public, for example when a Member of Parliament in a knitted mask enters the Bundestag and makes fun of everything. I got a lot of emails and phone calls about this. One should be ashamed of it. And for us, this is a blow to the office.
But your group has filed a complaint against the obligation to wear a mask in the Bundestag. And there was not one, but a number of MPs who mocked the danger. Can’t control these people?
First, the free authorization applies. And the MPs have a point with their protest at the latest if they come from states where face masks were also mandatory in public places. And I have also heard ridicule from members of other political groups about the mask requirement. But yes, we are dealing with such questions within the party, because according to surveys, about half of us are for and the other half against such measures.
Could it be that the AfD is not currently revolting in favor of the electorate because the party is seen as divided, divided and radicalized?
Yes, what voters don’t like at all is disputes. It is also completely understandable that one does not want to vote for a party that is only concerned with itself and not with the concerns of the people. But I also believe that the disputes seem bigger than they are because the media is bringing it out. You must leave the church in the village. (bss)
The 42-year-old with a doctorate in economics and business was elected by her party along with federal spokesman Tino Chrupalla as the top AfD candidate for the 2021 federal election on May 25, 2021. Weidel’s hometown is Überlingen on Lake Constance. She lives here with her partner and two children. Since February 2020 she has been president of the Baden-Württemberg state association. (fp)