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10 Dec 2021, 14:00
Benjamin Wehrmann

German environment ministry to retain climate tasks despite losing competencies – new minister

Clean Energy Wire

The new German environment minister has said climate action will remain a key task for her ministry despite the government’s climate department being moved to the economy ministry, led by Green Party co-leader Robert Habeck. Steffi Lemke, also from the Green Party, said her environment ministry (BMUV) will be given the department for consumer protection, previously located in the justice ministry. “While the past years were often characterised by mutual blockades between the ministries, there’s now a chance to re-establish cooperation,” Lemke said at her inauguration, adding that the BMUV will continue to be “a driver of economic, ecological and societal modernisation.” Her ministry will retain responsibility for nature-based climate protection through reforestation and other measures; for climate adaptation, and for resource policies, meaning it will also have a say in general future climate policy. Lemke stressed that global warming is only one of several monumental challenges for environmental policy, with dwindling biodiversity and plastic pollution also posing huge risks. She also said that the department for consumer protection adds real value to the environment ministry’s work, as the BMUV now has a chance to influence product designs and consumer rights for longevity and maintainability of products, which can in turn reduce resource consumption.

In the formation of Germany’s new government coalition, the main responsibilities for climate have been shifted away from the environment ministry to the novel economy and climate ministry in a bid to better integrate climate action and economic policy. International climate policy moves to the foreign ministry. Critics have warned the change in government design could bring risks for climate policy, as the economy ministry’s priority ultimately will be to safeguard prosperity rather than reducing emissions.

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