21 Jul 2021, 13:27
Charlotte Nijhuis

Climate protection plans need a ‘social deal’ – trade union head

dpa, ZEIT Online

Climate protection plans need a stronger focus on social equality, Reiner Hoffman, head of the German Confederation of Trade Unions (DGB), has said. The EU Green Deal, a comprehensive package of climate measures aimed at achieving net-zero emission by 2050, must also become a “social deal,” he argued. “Today, the lowest-income households are most affected by climate policy choices – whether you take the cost of heating or transport,” Hoffman told press agency dpa, ZEIT Online reports. Hoffman emphasised the need for affordable alternatives to combustion engine cars as well as affordable housing in inner city locations in order to reduce commuting time. He also called on the next German government to set the course in combining climate protection with social policy: "If we really want to make decarbonisation and digitalisation an economic success, then politics must be bold and invest so that peoples' living conditions improve significantly.” Hoffman also called for a continued suspension of the debt brake – which was put in place because of the corona crisis – in order to make significant investments in public infrastructure possible. If this is not done, “acceptance for politics goes down the drain,” he warned.

Two months before Germany's general elections on 26 September, the Social Democrats (SPD) which are traditionally close to the trade unions, are trailing the Conservatives (CDU-CSU) and the Green Party in the polls. SPD chancellor candidate Olaf Scholz has told voters that protecting the climate "won't require major sacrifices" while CDU candidate Armin Laschet stressed that the  "social question" would be one of his central concerns in the struggle against global warming.

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