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19 Jun 2019, 12:03
Julian Wettengel

Head of governing conservatives says environmental protection must "get the priority it deserves"

Die Zeit

Humankind cannot continue living and economising the way it has, as the earth is reaching its limits, writes Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, head of the governing Christian Democratic Union (CDU), in a guest commentary in German weekly Die Zeit. To ensure intergenerational fairness, the costs of today’s way of life “must be paid today and become part of a sustainable model for the economy and society,” she writes. She adds that securing the natural foundations of life and averting a lasting damage to the environment should “get the priority it deserves”, stressing that the government is facing a renewed call by the population to strengthen energy and environment policy. Kramp-Karrenbauer sees an increased willingness to change among the public and calls for a “circular thinking” when it comes to the country’s way of life and its economy. “Germany can prove that innovative strength and willingness to change can guide our society and thus create the necessary impetus to save the natural foundations of life. […] Germany in particular must assume its pioneering role in order to convince others through its actions.”

Germany’s governing parties are increasingly under pressure to introduce effective climate policy as large parts of the population – fuelled by the Fridays For Future student protests – call for more ambitious action. The European elections delivered major gains for Green parties in several countries as voters signalled a strong desire for more aggressive action on climate change. In Germany, the Greens' surge was especially strong. The party doubled its support, coming in second to Merkel’s conservative CDU/CSU alliance. The Green landslide has since pushed Germany’s governing parties to put greater focus on combatting climate change. A close Merkel ally and her possible successor as chancellor, Kramp-Karrenbauer is seen as a talented all-rounder, but energy and climate policy have until recently not been a focus for her. She warned in June that climate policy had the potential to become a polarising issue in the country.

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