Biesenthal (dpa) – Mosquitoes are buzzing, ants are busy crawling through the grass, somewhere a bird of prey screeches.
Chancellor candidate Annalena Baerbock and her party leader Robert Habeck could hardly have found a much greener atmosphere than the “Biesenthaler Becken” nature reserve near Berlin with its damp meadows and forests to present their “immediate climate protection program”. Central point: A Ministry of the Environment with veto power on bills that do not comply with the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement.
Environmental ministers are traditionally not exactly heavyweights at the cabinet table. It should not continue like this, says Baerbock. “There is a ministry for the environment that is responsible for everything that is good. And then there is a Ministry of Economic Affairs, which all these years has only said ‘no’ because it is led by the Union.”
Time is of the essence when it comes to climate protection, warns the Greens, advertising the “historic opportunity” to create “climate-friendly prosperity” for future generations in the next decade.
“We are about to set a course to get on the 1.5 degree path at all,” Baerbock warns. Joining the government without being verifiable with measures along this path makes no sense, says Habeck. According to the Paris Climate Agreement, global warming must be limited to well below two degrees compared to the pre-industrial era and every effort must be made to stop the temperature rise at 1.5 degrees.
From the energy sector’s point of view, lengthy planning and approval procedures, insufficiently designated areas and many lawsuits hamper the expansion of onshore wind energy. A hitherto unresolved conflict is that between the expansion of wind energy and the protection of species. Habeck said the expansion could succeed in harmony with species protection, the Greens had “discussed” with environmental groups.
Core theme of climate protection
After the shaky start to the election campaign with debates about, for example, Baerbock’s resume, the Greens are now trying to advance their core issue of climate protection as a crucial theme for the election.
Motto: Full steam ahead for climate protection – and don’t waste more years like the incumbent government made up of CDU, CSU and SPD. Although climate targets have been set, Habeck says, there are no concrete steps. In his words, “But goals without measures is art without a job.”
Similar requests to speak come from environmental associations. The director of the Federation for the Environment and Nature Conservation Germany (BUND), Antje von Broock, welcomes the suggestions for “concrete substantive steps”.
Lisa Göldner of Greenpeace emphasizes: “Acute risks such as the climate crisis can only be reduced with quick responses” – therefore the proposals are a good thing. “But the Greens’ program has gaps. In order to actually limit the temperature rise to 1.5 degrees, combustion engines should no longer be allowed by 2025.”
More new wind turbines
In their “immediate programme”, the Greens are campaigning for a rapid change to the Renewable Energy Act – with significantly higher expansion targets. For example, they want to increase the expansion of onshore wind to six gigawatts per year in order to “triple it from the current level”.
That means: significantly more new wind turbines. In comparison, after two weak years of expansion in 2019 and 2020, industry associations expect installed power to increase from 2.2 to 2.4 gigawatts this year. There are currently about 29,000 wind turbines in Germany with a total capacity of more than 55 gigawatts.
The Greens also want an “enlargement offensive” for solar energy. The “direct program” states that solar energy must become the standard on roofs in new construction, in public and commercial buildings and in major renovations: “We anchor such a solar obligation in the Building Energy Act.” For example, Minister of Economic Affairs Peter Altmaier (CDU) rejects a solar obligation. He recently warned of additional costs for private home builders.
In view of the goal of climate neutrality by 2045, Habeck says the transformation phase of the next 20 years will be a phase of “changes” and a phase of “unreasonable demands”. At the same time, however, he emphasized the need for social balance.
FDP leader Christian Linder notes: “In the throes of their election campaign, the Greens are pulling out all the stops for their core clientele.” His party colleague and climate politician Lukas Köhler speaks of a “wild mess of small-scale individual measures” and wants to rely on emissions trading instead.
Baerbock is aware of this popular image of the Greens as a Prohibition Party and strikingly emphasizes the role of the industry, which is long down the road. Waiting further for climate protection puts Germany at risk as a business location. The message: more climate protection preserves jobs and creates new ones.
But it shouldn’t work completely without prohibition. Baerbock explains that climate protection requires three regulations, a clear CO2 price and financing policy. But regulatory law means clear legal requirements. Habeck confirms that the end of the combustion engine must come, 2030 is “set”. And the Greens want to bring the coal phase to the same year 2030 – even though Habeck thinks it’s crucial to shut down many power plants as soon as possible, and not when the last power plant goes offline. The goal so far is to phase out coal by 2038 at the latest.