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03 Sep 2019, 13:41
Julian Wettengel

“Big coup” in climate policy needed to continue German coalition – SPD Vice Chancellor Scholz

Spiegel Online / Clean Energy Wire

Germany's Vice Chancellor, finance minister and top candidate to become leader of the Social Democratic Party (SPD), Olaf Scholz, has made successful climate policy a prerequisite for the future of Chancellor Angela Merkel's grand coalition. "We need a big coup in climate policy if we, as a government, want to continue to have the right to lead the country," Scholz told Spiegel Online in an interview. The small-scale, detailed efforts that have marked the coalition's climate policy until now are not enough anymore, said Scholz. The topic had to become much more a focus than it had during the negotiations to form the coalition in 2018. Scholz added that the government must move away from policymaking "in which we do not dare to do the right thing because we are too afraid of possible reactions."

The federal government coalition has promised key climate action decisions for 20 September. CDU, CSU and SPD have agreed to jointly evaluate their work by mid-October, roughly the half-time of the current legislative period, as stipulated in the coalition treaty. The parties will then decide whether to continue their alliance, and several SPD politicians have said they would make climate policy a key issue in the decision. Until now, finance minister Scholz has only hesitantly supported freeing up additional government budget for climate action. In November 2018, his ministry rejected party colleague and environment minister Svenja Schulze's proposal to introduce a price on carbon emissions a mere day after she had mentioned the idea in a speech. Scholz has since come around and now supports the introduction of a CO₂ price.

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