08 Dec 2021, 13:07
Benjamin Wehrmann

Critics warn moving climate from German environment to economy ministry could backfire

Tageszeitung (taz) / Der Tagesspiegel

The novel climate and economy ministry in the new German government has the potential to become a “super ministry” that combines two crucial aspects by which the government’s success will ultimately be measured, but it is yet to be seen if the ministry led by Green politician Robert Habeck can deliver on high expectations, Malte Kreutzfeldt writes in newspaper Tageszeitung (taz). Habeck has been quick to fill key positions in the new ministry, for example the state secretary job with Patrick Graichen, former head of energy policy think tank Agora Energiewende. But the decision to remove climate from the environment ministry (BMU) and combine the key environmental topic with the department responsible for business and growth could also backfire, observers warn. “Transferring responsibility for climate action to the economy ministry is a risky move,” Christoph Bals of NGO Germanwatch told taz. If Habeck succeeds in balancing contradicting interests in his own ministry, “this could be very efficient,” Bals said. “But from now on there will be no environment ministry anymore that provides support,” he added.

In a guest article for newspaper Tagesspiegel, former BMU spokesman Michael Schroeren criticised the decision to reduce the ministry’s sphere of influence, arguing the Green Party of all parties would effectively “rip out the core” of a ministry that for the most part has been a key partner for their political goals in the past. “It’s prudent to remain sceptical” of the new “super ministry,” as combining huge tasks under one roof has not always produced enviable results in German politics, Schroeren warned. The environment ministry under new Green minister Steffi Lemke will now lose billions of euros of its budget and climate policy will no longer be embedded in the comprehensive environmental expertise of the BMU, he added. Moving climate to the economy ministry is “perhaps (a) reckless experiment” that could have been avoided by doing the exact opposite and giving the BMU more influence in the government’s workings, Schroeren concluded.

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