13 Dec 2021, 13:24
Julian Wettengel

Climate and energy key issues in German cabinet members’ first trips abroad

Clean Energy Wire / Reuters / ZDF

Climate and energy policy has emerged as a key issue for German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and members of his cabinet on their first official trips abroad. Scholz discussed the role of natural gas in the EU taxonomy for sustainable investments with French president Emmanuel Macron and European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen. He told journalists that each country had their own plan to prevent human-caused climate change and gas would play an important role in Germany during the transition. Scholz said talks on whether to include gas and nuclear in the taxonomy were ongoing. “I don't think we are quite together yet. But everyone is discussing how to come together. Let's see.” During a visit to Poland, Scholz reiterated Germany’s commitment to safeguarding Ukraine's role as a transit route for gas into Europe when asked about the controversial Russian-German natural gas pipeline Nord Stream 2.

Foreign minister Annalena Baerbock and economic development minister Svenja Schulze meanwhile joined the G7 foreign and development minister meeting in Liverpool, UK. Baerbock also commented on Nord Stream 2. The former government had already stated that “in the event of further escalation this gas pipeline could not come into service,” Baerbock told German television station ZDF, but called for further talks with Russia. Minister Schulze highlighted that Germany would take over the G7 presidency on 1 January and use it to advance the fight against the COVID-19 crisis, but also to strengthen climate action efforts. “We want to join forces to support developing and emerging countries in the transition away from coal, oil and gas towards renewable energies and good jobs,” she said.

There is little time for the new government to find its way in international relations as Germany takes over the G7 presidency in 2022. Jennifer Tollmann, senior policy advisor for climate diplomacy and geopolitics at think tank E3Ghad told Clean Energy Wire that the next chancellor will have to step up to the geopolitical plate quite quickly. “It will be a bit of a sink-or-swim challenge for them, because they will have to grip that group, which the UK has explicitly positioned as an engine to keep 1.5°C within reach,” she explained. Germany also needs to continue establishing the G7 as an engine for decarbonisation, focusing on sustainable finance and changing economic framework conditions, she added. 

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