14 Jan 2022, 13:46
Benjamin Wehrmann

Opposition says new economy minister Habeck neglects businesses amid climate push

Clean Energy Wire / Redaktionsnetzwerk Deutschland

The ambitious energy transition plans by new German economy and climate minister Robert Habeck have drawn criticism from the opposition, which argues the Green Party politician is jeopardising economic stability for the sake of emissions reduction. In his first ministerial speech in parliament, Habeck largely focused on climate topics, leading the deputy head of the conservative CDU’s parliamentary faction, Julia Klöckner, to say Habeck neglects the economy part of his job. “If it says economy minister on the label, there should also be an economy minister inside,” former agriculture minister Klöckner said. At a time when many businesses are struggling due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and other challenges, it’s not enough to only “turbo charge" climate action, the conservative politician argued. A successful transformation will be driven by businesses themselves, she said, arguing that “a planned green economy is not going to work.”
Klaus Ernst, the parliament's climate committee head from the Left Party, said the current price hike on energy markets would "fuel the fears" of the energy transition among citizens, media outled Redaktionsnetzwerk Deutschland reported. There would have to be real support measures for struggling consumers in the short run. Moreover, Ernst said Habeck's ideas so far lack a concrete perspective how jobs can be saved or newly created during the economy's transition. Speaking for the right-wing AfD, MP Leif-Erik Holm said the minister will soon have to file for "insolvency" if he sticks to his plans, arguing that Germany is making a mistake by completing its nuclear exit at the end of the year.

Habeck defended his priority on climate policy, stressing that progress in the field will not only reduce CO2 emissions but also the reliance on energy imports, create new jobs, and push  forward economic development generally. “I see an opportunity for the German economy, for growth and climate action,” Habeck said, arguing the two can “wonderfully complement each other” if done right. The current energy price pressure on companies is merely a result of the worldwide “appetite for fossil energy,” he said. Speeding up renewables construction is a solution to this problem, the economy and climate minister added. Eearlier this week, Habeck presented his ministry's climate action plans for the first time, arguing a "huge, gigantic" task lies ahead of the government, which inherited a “drastic backlog” of too-high emissions left by the previous government led by the CDU. The Green Party minister wants to accelerate renewables growth - in particular a new onshore wind boom - as well as industry decarbonisation and the electrification of transport and heating.

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