28 May 2019, 13:28
Julian Wettengel

EU elections wake-up call to make "future-proof" decisions - opinion

Clean Energy Wire

The results of the European elections, in which the Greens surged driven by concerns over global climate change, mean that energy companies must increasingly bet on renewables, Claudia Kemfert of the German Institute for Economic Research (DIW) told the newspaper Die Welt. “The strengthening of the Greens will force energy suppliers to make a consistent shift towards more renewable energies and a transition in heating and transport,” she said. Manuel Frondel, head of the Environment and Resources Department at the RWI-Leibniz Institute for Economic Research, said: “The number of strategic options for energy suppliers is becoming smaller and smaller as a result of political decisions, not least the planned coal exit.”

The historically bad results for Germany’s governing CDU and SPD parties in the European elections and the Green Party’s success help change the political landscape in Germany, which has long been shaped by the two big “Volksparteien” – parties that reach beyond traditional voter groups and draw support from all strata of society, writes Eva Quadbeck in an opinion piece in the Rheinische Post. The only thing that might stand in the way of further Green Party success in the medium term is that it “is not prepared to be seen as a Volkspartei, with all the attached expectations from citizens.” Such parties have to take on responsibility for all citizens, not just their own clientele, she adds.

The good election results for the far-right populist Alternative for Germany (AfD) in eastern coal states and among workers in other parts of the country, meanwhile, could mean that the conservatives will hold back on ambitious climate action, writes Florian Gathmann for Spiegel Online. “The problem for Kramp-Karrenbauer: A progressive climate policy course is unlikely to to pay off for her party considering the AfD’s strength in the east,” he writes.

The European elections have shown that climate and environment protection are key issues for the voters, write researchers Maja Göpel and Antje Boetius in a guest commentary in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. With the Fridays for Future student protests it has become increasingly clear that climate action is a “generational issue,” and the transformation of the economy and our lifestyles is not only possible, but unavoidable, they write. Three political gridlocks have to be untied to make the transition a socially just success: the environmental costs must be reflected “in every business model and budget” to ensure the right steering effect; politicians, the economy and society have to escape the “here-and-now trap” and make future-proof decisions; and decisions have to be better aligned with the common good and public interest. “Social transformations like this one require a transparent understanding of the costs and benefits of action and non-action and how they can be fairly distributed,” write Göpel (general secretary of the German Advisory Council on Global Change - WBGU) and Boetius (director of the Alfred Wegener Institute - AWI).

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