German “traffic light coalition” ponders introduction of climate ministry, FDP leader says
ARD / Clean Energy Wire / n-tv
The possible new German coalition government of the Social Democrats (SPD), the Green Party and the Free Democratic party (FDP) could install a “new climate ministry,” the head of the FDP, Christian Lindner, said, without specifying the body’s scope of influence. The idea was not mentioned in a consultation paper the three parties released at the end of last week when announcing their agreement to enter into formal coalition negotiations. A new ministry for climate action could centralise competencies currently spread out over several other ministries to ensure that the country gets on track towards reaching its cross-sectoral emission reduction targets. Lindner later qualified his statement, saying a climate ministry would so far only be his “expectation” and not yet an agreed measure. SPD co-leader Norbert Walter-Borjans had criticized Lindner on news station n-tv for saying the coalition partners plan with a ministry for climate. “We now don’t need to talk about how individual ministries will be designed,” he said, adding that the parties had agreed to focus on targets first. Green Party secretary general Michael Kellner did not confirm that a climate ministry is being planned, but said “there will have to be a strong ministry for transformation, which is indeed a task for the entire government.” The idea of installing a climate ministry with veto powers in relevant government decisions had already been launched by the Green Party earlier this year, but was met with critcism by other parties. Regarding the reduction of subsidies to finance the new climate action measures, the head of the pro-business FDP said he would favour reducing the “excessive” support for electric cars that also goes to high-wage customers and company cars. “These are great products of our automotive industry and don’t need this kind of subsidy,” the FDP leader argued. There will not be higher taxes in the country and the debt ceiling will be respected, Lindner insisted, adding that efforts would be made to increase private investments in climate-friendly technology. He stressed that the possible “traffic light coalition,” named after the parties’ colours, would base its work on a socio-ecological renewal of the market economy, countering criticism by the conservative CDU/CSU alliance that his party would oversee a shift to the left in government with elements of a planned economy. Asked whether his party would strive to lead the finance ministry with him as minister, Lindner said this question is not relevant yet. “What matters to me is only that each of the three partners must be able to influence the outcome."
Three weeks after Germany’s election, the three parties said they would seek to enter into formal coalition negotiations soon and strive to form a new government before the end of the year. The "traffic light coalition" partners said they would seek to give the counry a “fresh start” and pave the way for an ecologic modernisation of the economy that complies with climate targets.