CDU and SPD blame each other for poor climate record, Greens stress coal exit in second TV debate
Clean Energy Wire
A second televised debate between the three chancellor candidates for the German federal election has again seen the Social Democrats’ (SPD) candidate Olaf Scholz come out on top in subsequent audience polls. According to pollster Forschungsgruppe Wahlen, 32 percent of viewers thought him to be the most convincing candidate in the debate, followed by the Green Party’s Annalena Baerbock with 26 percent, and the conservative CDU/CSU's Armin Laschet with 20 percent.
Laschet and Scholz clashed over the climate policy record of their two parties' coalition government, blaming each other for a lack of speed in the expansion of renewables. Scholz accused the CDU-led economy ministry of repeatedly refusing to adjust projections for Germany’s future power needs. “In the first year of the next legislative period, we have to make sure that enough electricity is generated in Germany [in the future] so that all the changes in the chemicals industry or the steel industry can take place,” Scholz said. Laschet in turn accused the SPD and Greens of putting up bureaucratic hurdles which stalled the shift to a climate neutral industry. He also criticised the “wrong priorities” in German climate policy. “If the issue is considered as important as I think it is, the order in Germany was wrong. First to get out of nuclear energy and then out of coal. That is now history. But the path was wrong,” he said. The decision to phase-out nuclear energy by the end of 2022 was taken by chancellor Angela Merkel's government coalition of FDP and CDU-CSU in 2011 and supported by both SPD and Green Party.
Green Party candidate Baerbock largely stayed out of the exchange of blows between the two men, mocking the two government party candidates for "trying to come to terms with the past." She repeated her party’s demands for an earlier coal exit, ending the use of the internal combustion engines in passenger cars, and a socially just CO2 pricing scheme. “This is the last federal government that can still actively influence the climate crisis,” she said.
In a last local test of voter preferences before the election on 26 September, the municipal elections in the state of Lower Saxony have seen the CDU finish as the strongest party with 31.7 percent, followed by the SPD (30%) and the Green Party (15.9%), FDP (6.5%), AfD (4.6%) and Left Party (2.8%). The CDU is traditionally the strongest party in municipal elections in Lower Saxony. While CDU and SPD both lost votes, the Green Party increased its result by almost 5 percentage points compared to the last local elections five years ago. On the federal level, the SPD leads the polls with about 25 percent, followed by the conservative alliance of CDU-CSU with 21 percent and the Greens with 16 percent.