German opposition parties clash over Energiewende’s international impact
Parliamentarians from the German opposition Free Democratic Party (FDP) and the Greens took aim at the government’s policies pertaining to energy and the climate, and to the international context of the country’s energy transition, the Energiewende. At a panel organised by the Association of Energy Market Innovators (bne), FDP politician Michael Theurer said Germany should not pursue a relatively ambitious climate policy, but should instead act in coherence with other nations. “I think that it makes no sense and is not a rational strategy – and I would not want to advocate this to the voters – for us to go it alone on the international stage and attempt to reach something that we can’t,” he said.
Green politician Ingrid Nestle countered that it was right for Germany to be open to ambitious proposals coming from abroad. She described carbon pricing as a useful instrument for reaching emissions reduction goals, as it compels the market to favour low-carbon fuels and technologies. In light of French President Emanuel Macron’s call for a Europe-wide carbon tax, Nestle argued that now is the time for Germany to throw its weight behind such a proposal, and said that it is a “shame” that it has not yet done so.
Parliamentarian Johann Saathoff of the Social Democrats (SPD), whose party is a member of the current government coalition, said that Germany serves as an example to countries seeking to limit their carbon pollution around the world. If Germany lowers its ambition and fails to meet its emissions reduction targets, other nations will take note, he added. The 2017 announcement that Germany would likely miss its 2020 climate goal “was communicated globally. Colleagues from Uganda and elsewhere commented that ‘If even the Germans don’t adhere to their climate targets, then we don’t need to either.’ So the worldwide impact of this announcement was enormous,” he said.
For background, read the factsheet Campaign quotes: Greens and Free Democrats on Energiewende issues.