20 Sep 2023, 13:17
Carolina Kyllmann

German society split on climate action, policymakers must find middle ground – survey

Clean Energy Wire

Public opinion on climate action in Germany is highly polarised, with a large part of society (56%) wishing for more climate action and around a quarter (24%) denying human-caused climate change, an Ipsos survey commissioned by technical inspection association TÜV found. "For policymakers, this means: some will be critical of any measure for climate protection, no matter how sensible; for others, any measure, no matter how sensible, will not suffice," Johannes Bussmann, president of the TÜV association, said. According to the survey, the vast majority of people in Germany (78%) find climate and environmental protection important or very important, while 68 percent perceive climate change as a threat to their livelihoods, and 56 percent say they have altered their consumption and mobility behaviour because of it. On the other hand, almost a quarter (23%) of German citizens say that the negative effects of climate change do not affect them, while 24 percent don't believe in human-caused climate change at all, according to the results. "The result is heated debates between political parties, in the media or at home at the dinner table," Bussmann said. Still, just over half (53%) of respondents believe that policymakers bear the main responsibility for solving global climate and environmental problems, the results show.

"Between the extreme positions of climate deniers and [climate activist group] the 'Last Generation', policymakers must strengthen the social centre and advance environmental and climate protection even against resistance," Bussmann said. He called for unity in the government, so that energy transition legislation sets clear guidelines and cushions social hardship. "In Brussels, the German government should work to ensure that regulations, such as the right to repair, the Green Claims Directive [to rein in greenwashing] or the digital product passport, are passed before the European elections in 2024," Bussmann said.

Nearly halfway through its four-year term, Germany’s government faces increasing public discontent over its switch from two years of energy crisis management to controversial climate policies. In light of a faltering economy and upcoming German state and EU elections, the government must find a way to maintain public support for climate action while implementing policies that leave no one behind, according to experts.

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