04 Dec 2019, 13:45
Benjamin Wehrmann

New SPD leadership seen as backtracking from campaign climate demands

Tagesspiegel Background

The draft of a main motion by the new Social Democratic Party (SPD) leadership duo does not include key climate policy campaign demands of the recently elected party heads Saskia Esken and Norbert Walter-Borjans , writes Nora Maria Zaremba for the energy policy newsletter Tagesspiegel Background. Neither does the draft contain a demand for increasing Germany's planned CO2 price to 40 euros or the so-called climate premium, a mechanism meant to ensure that state earnings made with carbon pricing are redistributed to ensure that poorer households are not disproportionally burdened, she writes. Instead, the draft titled "Departure into the new age" merely says that the new SPD leaders want "a socially just and effective CO2 price in combination with a comprehensive and broadly effective social compensation."
Regarding Germany's coal phase-out, the draft says the SPD wants to "set the course" for an exit earlier than the 2038 date proposed by the country's coal exit commission, adding that "public investments and compensation for job losses are indispensable" for this to happen. Moreover, the party heads no longer talk about holding an immediate internal party vote on continuing the grand coalition with Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative CDU/CSU alliance, but rather suggest holding "talks" with the coalition partner on specific policy issues, including climate action. "The relatively tame motion shows just how much the SPD depends on the grand coalition," Zaremba writes, adding that Esken and Walter-Borjans want to avoid an "abrupt end" to the partnership they vehemently opposed during their leadership campaign.

Environmental organisation DUH had analysed the climate policy ideas announced by the new SPD leadership during their campaign. The DUH said Esken and Walter-Borjans "have recognised that the government's climate package will not be sufficient for achieving the goals of the national 2030 climate package, nor the 1.5-degree Celsius goal of the Paris Agreement." Proposals made by the pair include a European carbon border tax; an Energiewende investment fund to finance renewables expansion with ten billion euros per year "collected on capital markets;" a "significantly higher" renewables expansion goal and regulatory changes to increase acceptance and ease of licensing of new installations; a tripling of public transport expenditures with the long-term goal of making it "free of charge;" banning new registrations of vehicles that emit CO2 by 2035; no sweeping minimum distances for wind turbines; and a nominal CO2 price of 215 euros per tonne in 2030.

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