How climate became Germany’s new culture war – opinion
New York Times
For years, Germany has been embroiled in a cultural war over immigration, refugees and diversity, but the environment has also emerged as a deeply polarising issue that the populist right is gearing up to exploit, Anna Sauerbrey says in an opinion piece for the New York Times. “Be it the reality of global warming, limits on greenhouse gases, the future of mobility in cities or the protection of bees — the debate is growing polemical and emotional, as people are beginning to feel the consequences of environmental policies in their everyday lives,” Sauerbrey says. She points to public debate over the “Fridays For Future” student climate protests, diesel driving bans in inner cities and a proposed speed limit for the German autobahn, adding that populist parties in Germany and Europe are campaigning against environmental regulation. “Such opposition perfectly fits into populist narratives and patterns: scepticism about science, anger over ‘political correctness’ and a libertarian reflex against government regulations in general.”
The 2019 European Parliament elections will be held from 23 to 26 May (Germans will vote on 26 May). In recent years, EU institutions have become a key driver of climate policy, setting emissions targets as national climate protection efforts in countries like Germany stall, and taking the lead in international climate negotiations since the US stepped back.