19 May 2023, 13:32
Julian Wettengel

Departure of energy state secretary bad news for climate action – opinion

WirtschaftsWoche / WAZ / FAZ

The cronyism allegations and subsequent departure of energy state secretary Patrick Graichen, as well as the public dispute about government plans for a de-facto ban of fossil heaters “have destroyed a lot of trust” in government climate action, writes Manfred Lachniet in an opinion piece in Westdeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung (WAZ). Climate protection was delayed for decades by previous governments and “Habeck – and with him the Greens – are just learning painfully how powerful the forces of inertia are in the country,” Lachniet writes. “This is not good news for climate protection.” Finding a suitable replacement for Graichen is a “prerequisite for regaining trust in the economy and climate policy of the [ruling] coalition,” writes Julia Löhr in an opinion piece in Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. “It will be interesting to see whether Habeck finds someone to succeed Graichen who is not suspected of green cronyism.”

While there is a cross-party commitment to the Paris Climate Agreement goals and to Germany’s Climate Action Law, the way politicians conducted disputes before Graichen’s exit – and will do so after – shows that “sober negotiations” on climate and energy policy hardly seem possible anymore, writes Max Haerder in WirtschaftsWoche. He adds that Graichen worked as a respected professional in the ministry, whose expertise was widely appreciated, but his case had now “turned into an unbearable burden for the core of the Greens’ government work.”

Energy state secretary in the economy ministry Patrick Graichen left his position after weeks of allegations of cronyism. Minister Robert Habeck himself said that the departure is “very consequential” for his energy transition policy plans. Graichen was a key figure within the ruling coalition when the newly elected government in 2022 was faced with the energy crisis fuelled by Russia’s war on Ukraine and raced to find alternatives to Russian energy supplies, while shielding citizens and businesses from starkly rising prices. As the relevant state secretary, Graichen was also a crucial player for Germany’s move to climate neutrality, overseeing a myriad of legislative reforms for example to speed up renewables expansion. Graichen had “revived the energy transition and made climate action government action,” Habeck said.

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