11 Mar 2017 | Benjamin Wehrmann

The Green Party's draft election programme - a first look

The Green Party's first draft election programme focuses on the “ecological modernisation” of Germany. In the run-up to September’s parliamentary elections, the Greens set out their aims of reinvigorating renewables development, giving up coal and weaning heating and transportation from fossil fuels. Arguing that ecologic questions are the root of many of society’s current challenges, the draft programme points to the Greens’ goal of a comprehensive transformation of the economy towards greater sustainability.

Germany’s Green Party is determined to make climate protection and “ecological modernisation” the central issues of their election campaign. Presenting the party’s preliminary campaign programme, “Courage makes the future” party heads Katrin Göring-Eckardt and Cem Özdemir confirmed that the Greens’ trademark policy areas will once again be at the core of its campaign.

Despite a recent slump in the polls in the run-up to the election in September, which is likely to be dominated by migration, social justice and security, the party executive committee is foregrounding ecological sustainability. “Ecology is more than environmental protection,” Göring-Eckardt said, arguing that issues like migration, public health and job security were directly linked to the impact of human activity on the climate and natural resources.

“Prosperity also concerns the question whether we drink clean water and breathe clean air,” Özdemir added at the draft’s presentation in Berlin, which focused on “making Germany an ecological frontrunner again”, and advancing the energy transition in all sectors.

Party members will be able to request amendments to the executive committee’s draft of the election programme over the coming weeks, with a final programme decided by vote during a party convention on 16 to 18 June. (This factsheet will be updated at that time.)

Economic Policy

The world’s current ecological crises, and the climate crisis in particular, put humankind’s existence at stake, the Greens say in their draft programme. “That’s why we need to undertake a major project of social-economic modernisation now.” The party’s economic policy will be “demanding for companies” but also “open new possibilities through innovation”.

“We will consistently gear our economy, our transportation system, and our energy and food production towards a green economy and green technology,” the draft reads. Companies ready to accept this challenge would receive all available assistance and the party would continue to confront “lobby groups and companies pursuing business interests without regard for the environment,” it adds.

“Ecologic financial reform” would reduce environmentally harmful subsidies for “heavy company cars, airplane fuels, and diesel” by about 12 billion euros “in a first step” – or more than 20 percent, according to the Greens. This money should instead be used to support poorer households to optimise their energy and resource consumption.

And the Greens want to push German companies and municipalities to divest from fossil fuels. “Companies need to show the climate risks of their products in annual reports,” the party says, calling for the introduction of “transparent certification” of green investment options.

The state should alter its annual reporting to expand evaluation beyond GDP figures, integrating ecological and social indicators, the draft says. “Criteria such as our ecological footprint, biodiversity, income distribution and an education index are more comprehensive and appropriate to gauge our prosperity.”

Transport policy

The Greens acknowledge “the car industry’s special importance for Germany” and intend to “help it take the leap into the 21st century,” the draft says. However, current German transportation policy is “lopsided in favour of the car,” disregarding public transportation, long-distance trains and bicycles, they add.

A “Green MobilityPassport” is intended to connect Germany’s 130 regional transport associations and allow for public transport use across the country with a single ticket. At the same time, travelling by train is to become cheaper by lowering route fees. “Airlines should be taxed appropriately,” the Greens say.

Air pollution from particulate matter is “responsible for tens of thousands of deaths around the world,” the preliminary programme says. The party therefore calls for the swift retrofitting of diesel cars equipped with software to cheat emissions tests, at the manufacturers' expense. It also endorses the introduction of a “blue badge” scheme that allows only low-emission cars access to inner cities.

“From 2030 on, only emissions-free cars will leave assembly lines” in Germany, the Greens say. “The era of the fossil combustion engine is over.” The shift to electric vehicles must be a key policy target, the Greens argue. They advocate a wave of transformation through subsidies that ensure the car industry in Germany is kept well and fit.

Climate policy

Following the example of the Green Party’s regional branches in North-Rhine Westphalia and other federal states, the executive committee is intent on introducing a nationwide “Climate Protection Law.” It is meant to outline in detail how Germany will achieve an emissions reduction of at least 80 percent by 2050, compared to 1990 levels, and ensure the country lives up to its commitments under the Paris Climate Agreement. The law is supposed to produce “binding and projectable” goals for the power sector and industry, as well as for transport, agriculture and heating.

A price tag for CO2-emissions is needed “to tell the ecologic truth,” the draft reads. The Greens want to see a reform of the EU’s Emissions Trading System that “permanently deletes excess certificates and puts an end to the practice of issuing certificates for free,” he draft says. With the revenues generated from a fixed price on carbon emissions, the Greens want to fund climate protection measures in industrial processes and construction.

“Without a quick coal exit, all of these efforts will be in vain,” the draft continues. The Greens want to “initiate an irrevocable coal phase-out” in the next legislative period, envisaging an end to coal-fired power production within 20 years. The dirtiest coal plants should be closed immediately, the party argues, with remaining facilities’ emissions capped in line with climate protection targets. A “Coal Exit Law” would provide the legal basis for this, and halt the expansion of existing coal mines as well as the export of German coal mining technology. Job losses caused by the coal phase-out should be cushioned by a “Structural Change Fund”, it adds.

Energy policy

“It is possible to ensure mankind’s energy supply relying solely on sun, wind, water, sustainable bioenergy and thermal heat,” the party says, arguing that “this energy transition has been our aim since day one.” The Greens want to achieve “100 percent green power by 2030,” by ending coal-fired power production and abolishing limits to renewables expansion.

The Greens want to reform the Renewable Energy Act by substantially increasing renewables expansion targets and “minimise the current billion-euro power price rebates for industry” unless companies are “actually exposed to international competition.” Households should shoulder less of the burden and benefit from renewables expansion through schemes such as tenant electricity support.

An “Energy Saving Law” is to specify how industry is to exploit efficiency potentials. A programme dubbed “Fair Heating”, worth 2 billion euros, is to advance the energy-efficient retrofitting of building stock.

Regardless of Germany’s secured nuclear exit in 2022, the party intends to sustain its opposition to nuclear power production and extend it to the European level. German component suppliers for the nuclear sector should be closed and the decommissioning of old reactors in neighbouring countries more adamantly pursued within the EU.

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