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08 Feb 2021, 13:27
Charlotte Nijhuis

German Social Democrats put sustainability at heart of election campaign

ZEIT online / Tagesspiegel

The German Social Democrats (SPD) want to put sustainable restructuring of the economy and society at the heart of their federal election campaign, the party announced during a two-day party meeting on 7 and 8 February in Berlin, ZEIT online writes. SPD candidate for chancellor and federal finance minister Olaf Scholz promised greater efforts to tackle climate change as well as comprehensive, nationwide digitalisation. "If we want to have a CO2-neutral economy in 2050, that requires the greatest technological revolution, the greatest period of innovation in our country that has been seen in a long time," Scholz said. Looking at international competition, Scholz said Germany cannot prevent other countries from planning new coal-fired plants, but Germany itself can develop alternatives. "If we don't do it now, others will, and we will be deindustrialised." Scholz said targeted investments are necessary, estimated at around 50 billion euros a year, but most of which “will be in the private sector”.

The federal election in September is about “fundamental questions of direction,” according to a paper written by Scholz and SPD party leaders Saskia Esken and Norbert Walter-Borjans, Sven Lemkemeyer writes in Tagesspiegel. The world is at a crossroads, the leaders write. "We have to revolutionise our production ecologically, renegotiate the rules of globalisation as well as those of the digital world and create secure and well-paid jobs in the process." To achieve the goal of climate-neutrality by 2050, the SPD wants to "make this decade one of renewables, where wind power and the sun are our energy sources, the use of which we support through a clean hydrogen economy on an industrial scale,” according to the paper.

Germany is set to vote for a new government on 26 September. After 16 years at the helm of Europe's largest economy, Chancellor Angela Merkel will make room for a successor who will shape the country's energy and climate policy in the first half of a decade viewed as crucial for international emissions reduction efforts. According to recent polls, the SPD currently enjoys 15 percent support for the federal elections, trailing behind the Green Party (around 20 percent) and the Christian Democrats (CDU, around 35 percent).

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