03 Jun 2019, 13:52
Benjamin Wehrmann

EU election debacle lets Merkel’s CDU party wrangle over future climate policy approach

Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung

Germany’s governing CDU party has become embroiled in a high-level dispute over the right approach to its future climate and energy policy. Calls by several leading members of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative party for more ambitious emissions reduction and clean energy expansion measures have been met with fierce rejection from other high-ranking party officials, who fear this will alienate large swathes of their traditional voter groups. In an interview with weekly newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung, state premier Daniel Günther from Schleswig-Holstein, who heads the country’s first so-called Jamaica coalition of the CDU, the Greens and the pro-business FDP at the regional level, called for making climate action and sustainability “core elements of conservative policymaking”, arguing that the strong showing of the Greens at the European elections showed that the conservatives must not “hand it over” to the environmentalist party. Saxony’s CDU state premier Michael Kretschmer, who stands for election in September and is under pressure to quell the rise of the nationalist AfD in the east German state, told the newspaper his fellow state premier’s remarks had left him “speechless”, adding the rising concerns over global warming were merely a temporary phenomenon. The CDU’s longest-serving member of parliament, former German finance minister and current President of the Bundestag (federal parliament) Wolfgang Schäuble, told the newspaper it was necessary for a party that intends to lead the country to “give the people a clear idea about its aims” regarding climate action. “We have to make our priorities clearly visible instead of only aiming for internal consensus,” Schäuble said.

Germany’s governing coalition parties, the conservative CDU and the Social Democrats (SPD), both incurred severe losses at the EU elections, while the German Green Party celebrated its best result in national elections ever. The Greens’ success at the ballots comes at a time when the student climate protest movement Fridays for Future and other voices across society demand much more ambitious climate policies from the government.

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