26 Apr 2019, 16:50
Julian Wettengel

Business-friendly Free Democrats aim to be climate action party

Süddeutsche Zeitung / Spiegel Online

Germany’s liberal, pro-business Free Democratic Party (FDP) wants to position itself as a party of climate action at this weekend’s party conference, writes Daniel Brössler in the Süddeutsche Zeitung. “The Liberals want to attack the Green Party in the field of environmental policy, but continue to present themselves as pro market economy and technology-savvy,” writes Brössler. The FDP is “emphatically committed to the goals of the Paris [Climate] Agreement,” the party leadership says in an extensive climate policy motion. “Germany's small share of the global CO₂ emissions does not relieve us of our responsibility as one of the world's largest economies,” the statement reads. The leadership also says Germany should lead the way with an “ambitious, yet reasonable climate policy” instead of “risking our economic strength through overhasty decisions in energy and industry policy.” After several German politicians this week pitched proposals for putting a price on CO₂ emissions – a concept that Chancellor Angela Merkel’s climate cabinet will debate throughout the year – the FDP said it rejects “national solo-runs like a CO₂ tax.” Instead, the main instrument should be Europe’s Emissions Trading System (EU ETS), which should be expanded to the transport and buildings sectors. The FDP leadership opposes sector-specific CO₂ targets as outlined in the government’s Climate Action Plan 2050. “Under no circumstances should such goals be enshrined in law, or enforceable in court,” it writes. Environment minister Svenja Schulze aims to do just that with her draft Climate Action Law

In his speech at the party conference, FDP head Christian Lindner reiterated earlier attacks on the Fridays For Future protesters, calling them "hyper-moralistic", Spiegel Online reported. However, he called on his party to take their arguments seriously and rebut them factually.

The FDP prefers market mechanisms over regulation and what it has frequently called “banning policies”. It has repeatedly called for an end to the renewables support mechanism in Germany’s Renewable Energy Act (EEG), and wants international solutions to the climate crisis. Key politicians in the party’s leadership have been criticised for their stance on climate change recently. In reaction to the “Fridays For Future” student climate protests, Lindner told tabloid Bild am Sonntag that students should leave climate policy “to the professionals” as “kids and teenagers cannot be expected to understand all global connections,” a remark that prompted a storm of criticism.

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