12 Jul 2021, 13:20
Charlotte Nijhuis

Germany should combine climate action with strong social policy – Fridays for Future leader

Tagesspiegel Background

Germany’s political parties should combine climate protection measures with strong social policy, Fridays for Future frontwoman Luisa Neubauer said in an interview with Florence Schulz and Jakob Schlandt for Tagesspiegel Background. The 25-year-old climate activist said Germany has many issues regarding social inequality, for example in the areas of housing, education and health, but these should not be used as an excuse to stall on climate policy. “The problem is not climate protection, but antisocial policies.” On the question of the CO2 price, Neubauer said it should amount to at least 180 euros a tonne and the costs should be distributed in a socially fair way. It is conceivable that fuel prices be exempt from the CO2 price, she said, arguing that raising the price would “hardly discourage people from driving, but would bring with it a disproportionate amount of potential for aggression.”

Neubauer said the election campaign so far has been “subliminally running against climate protection,” arguing there are contradictions between what parties promise in their election programmes and how they publicly address their voters. She particularly criticised Merkel’s conservative party, which is currently leading the polls, followed by the Green party and the Social Democrats (SPD). The CDU/CSU has potential to implement a successful climate policy, Neubauer said, but “to do so, it would have to question its own fossil fuel entanglements, which are so deeply ingrained in such an old, traditional party that it is sometimes no longer clear who is doing politics for whom.”

Though some Fridays for Future activists are running for parliament in September, Neubauer, who is a member of the Green party, has no plans to run herself, saying she considers the activist work she does with Fridays for Future to be more influential. “I would argue that what we have done in the past three years has been much more effective than the work of individual parliamentarians. The decisive change is taking place on the streets.”

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