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27 Jun 2019, 12:27
Julian Wettengel

Environment ministry should have right to initiate laws outside own responsibility – govt advisors

Clean Energy Wire

In light of “ongoing environmental degradation”, the German Advisory Council on the Environment (SRU) is calling for the strengthening of environmental policy in government decision-making, such as giving the environment ministry the right of legislative initiative outside its own area of responsibility. It should also have the right to veto such legislation, similar to the right enjoyed by the finance ministry with regard to budgetary issues. “In view of the cross-sectional nature of environmental protection, the role of the federal environment ministry in championing the environment should be strengthened to enable it to better integrate ecological concerns in all environmentally relevant policy areas,” says a special report by the SRU. Environmental policy “lacks assertiveness” in the daily political routine, SRU member Christian Calliess adds in a press release.

The SRU consists of seven members, all of them university professors from a range of disciplines. The SRU's mandate is to independently advise the German federal government on environmental policy issues.

The council wants to emphasise the long-term responsibility of the government, put it on a legal footing “and thus make issues such as climate protection more heard in the political process,” says Calliess. The SRU says environmental action must be taken into account in all relevant policy fields. While this was already current law, “political practice continues to be shaped by departmental thinking […] and competition among ministries”. Relevant ministries have to be given greater responsibility in implementing Germany’s Sustainable Development Strategy and this has to be reflected in the federal budget, it adds. Furthermore, government plans should be reviewed in terms of their sustainability, lobby contact with ministry officials should be reported regularly and a Council for Intergenerational Justice should be set up, the advisors say.

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