05 Jun 2020, 13:07
Sören Amelang

German, Austrian and Swiss presidents urge green recovery

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

The heads of state of Germany, Austria and Switzerland have warned against neglecting climate protection during the pandemic and urged an economic restart with investments in green technologies. "The climate crisis has not gone away. And there will be no vaccine against it," write German president Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Swiss Confederation President Simonetta Sommaruga, and Austrian President Alexander Van der Bellen in an op-ed in Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung to mark the United Nation's World Environment Day. "The fact that the World Climate Conference has to be postponed because of the corona pandemic does not mean that climate policy can be postponed."

The presidents argue that secure jobs and a strong climate policy are not contradictory, but go hand in hand instead. "A healthy economy that phases out coal, oil, gas, and mountains of waste creates growth and jobs with a future. We should therefore not invest in the past, but in new, environmentally friendly technologies, in clean and affordable electricity from renewable energy sources and in sectors that turn the old into the new," they write. "Young people in particular have shown solidarity to protect the elderly. In climate policy, the reverse is now true: we older people must show solidarity with the young by leaving them a planet worth living on." The authors say that a wise climate policy will quickly show positive effects on employment, growth and people's daily lives. They conclude: "We therefore have every reason to move forward on climate action. Together with the population and the economy, we can now shape our future. Let's do it!"

Governments around the world are drawing up emergency plans to cushion the economic effects of the coronavirus crisis. The German government this week announced plans to reboot Europe's largest economy with a 130 billion euros stimulus package that also contains many steps to further the country's landmark energy transition, such as lowering power prices, additional funding for public transport, and investments in future mobility and hydrogen technologies. But critics said the government missed the opportunity to fully align the programme with climate targets.

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