11 Mar 2017, 00:00

The Green Party's federal election programme

In its party programme for Germany's upcoming federal election, the Greens focus on the country's “ecological modernisation”. In the run-up to September’s vote, the party sets out its 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 programme points to the Greens’ goal of a comprehensive transformation towards a more sustainable economy.

Germany’s Green Party is determined makes climate protection and “ecological modernisation” the central issues of its election campaign. Party frontrunners Katrin Göring-Eckardt and Cem Özdemir said 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 at a presentation of the party's programme, 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. The programme therefore focused on “making Germany an ecological frontrunner again”, and advancing the energy transition in all sectors, he said.

Economic Policy

- The Greens aim for a "social-economic modernisation" that is going to be “demanding for companies” but also “open new possibilities through innovation.” This means to "gear our economy, our transportation system, and our energy and food production towards a green economy and green technology."

- Companies ready to accept this challenge are said to receive all available assistance. On the other hand, the party was going to continue to confront “lobby groups and companies pursuing business interests without regard for the environment,” it adds.

- An “ecologic financial reform” is meant to reduce environmentally harmful subsidies, such as for “heavy company cars, airplane fuels, and diesel” by about 12 billion euros “in a first step." This money should instead be used to support poorer households to optimise their energy and resource consumption.

- 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.

- Also changes for the public sector are included: The state needed to alter annual reporting to expand evaluation beyond GDP figures, integrating ecological and social indicators, the Greens say. “Criteria such as our ecological footprint, biodiversity, income distribution and an education index are more comprehensive and appropriate to gauge our prosperity.”

Transport policy

- Acknowledging the car industry’s special importance for the country, the Greens say they are intent on ensuring "vehicle production that is fit for the future" in Germany. 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” should connect Germany’s 130 regional transport associations and allow for nationwiede public transpor with one ticket. At the same time, "airlines should be taxed appropriately” and route fees for trains lowered.

- Air pollution from particulate matter is “responsible for tens of thousands of deaths around the world,” the 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

- The party intends to introduce a nationwide “Climate Protection Law” meant to outline in detail how Germany achieves an emissions reduction of at least 80 percent by 2050, compared to 1990 levels, thereby honouring the Paris Climate Agreement. The law is supposed to produce “binding and projectable” goals for all sectors.

- Acording to the Greens, a price tag for CO2-emissions is needed “to tell the ecologic truth”. The party wants 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." Revenues generated from a fixed price on carbon emissions could 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 by 2030. The 20 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 abolishing limits to renewables expansion.

- The Greens want to reform the Renewable Energy Act by substantially increasing 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 meant to specify how industry can 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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