Environmental budget discussion in parliament focussed on coal exit
The plenary debate in the German Parliament about Germany’s 2019 budget for environmental policy on 12 September centred on the country’s coal exit. Referring to the current situation in the embattled Hambach Forest, which energy company RWE wants to cut down to make room for a nearby coal mine, environment minister Svenja Schulze said: “It might sound boring and unsensational, but environmental policy must conciliate and not divide.” This was true both for powerful companies and for their opponents. “The one side should take its hands off the chainsaw and the other side should come down from the trees and open up to a political discussion. We need joint discussion here.”
Marie-Luise Dött, environmental spokesperson for Angela Merkel’s conservative CDU-CSU alliance, said that the coal commission must send a signal ahead of the UN climate conference in Katowice in December. “But this signal cannot be ‘we reach our climate targets; what happens to people [in the affected regions] is secondary’,” she said.
The Social Democrat (SPD) Matthias Miersch replied that one cannot pretend that climate goals can just be postponed at will. “We cannot negotiate with nature.” Parliament could only decide on the path to reach the target. “If we adhere to our international legal obligation to reach the 2030 climate targets, then all parliamentarians involved, as well as all government members […], will have to submit to this goal.”
Sven-Christian Kindler, the Greens group’s budget spokesperson, criticised the environment minister for not being assertive enough with the other ministers. “You cannot always pass the responsibility you have for climate policy on to the transport, agriculture, or economy ministers. I expect to see an environment minister who can assert herself in the government on key issues.”
Find the plenary protocol in German here.