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17 Sep 2021, 09:30
Benjamin Wehrmann Julian Wettengel

Tracking climate and energy in Germany's election year

Germany's parliament, the Bundestag. Photo: Achim Melde / DBT
Germany's parliament, the Bundestag. Photo: Achim Melde / DBT

Germany is set to vote for a new government on 26 September. After 16 years at the helm of Europe's largest economy, Chancellor Angela Merkel will make room for a successor who will shape the country's energy and climate policy in the first half of a decade viewed as crucial for international emissions reduction efforts. With the COVID-19 pandemic still looming and Germany and the EU having decided to aim for climate neutrality by 2050, Clean Energy Wire traces the steps leading up to the election and will highlight developments in climate and energy policy by all major parties in this regularly updated news overview [UPDATES to 16 September].

16 September

EU climate policy not featuring enough in Germany’s election campaign – NGOs

While climate policy is one of the top issues in the September federal election campaign, climate and energy policy on a European level hardly features at all, several NGOs have pointed out. "Whoever wants to become chancellor of the largest industrial country in Europe and the fourth largest economy in the world must answer the question: Is Germany putting the brakes on climate and nature protection within the EU or is it finally becoming a driver for the Green Deal?," said Nature and Biodiversity Conservation Union (NABU) president Jörg-Andreas Krüger.

 

15 September

Hunger strikers demand meeting with chancellor candidates about climate

In the run up to the German federal election, a group of young people have entered a third week of a hunger strike to call for more climate action - with one of the protesters being temporarily admitted to hospital. The group, which calls itself the ‘last generation’, vows to continue their strike until they can publicly meet with the three leading chancellor candidates. In a joint reply, Annalena Baerbock (Green Party), Armin Laschet (CDU) and Olaf Scholz (SPD) agreed to a private in-person meeting with the activists, but only after the election and on the condition that the hunger strike be ended.

 

14 September

Smaller German parties’ TV debate shows clear differences in approach to climate action

In a televised debate following on that of Germany’s three chancellor candidates, the four smaller parties in the country’s parliament have traded blows over the course of climate policy after the election on 26 September, exposing deep differences in how global warming should be tackled. Three of the four parties, namely the Left Party, the pro-business FDP and the conservative Bavarian party CSU stand a good chance to become junior partners in a new government coalition, whereas the far-right AfD does not have any credible option or partners to join the next government with.

 

12 September

CDU and SPD blame each other for poor climate record, Scholz winner in second TV debate

A second televised debate between the three chancellor candidates for the German federal election has again seen the Social Democrats’ (SPD) candidate Olaf Scholz come out on top in subsequent audience polls. According to pollster Forschungsgruppe Wahlen, 32 percent of viewers thought him to be the most convincing candidate in the debate, followed by the Green Party’s Annalena Baerbock with 26 percent, and the conservative CDU/CSU's Armin Laschet with 20 percent.
Laschet and Scholz clashed over the climate policy record of their two parties' coalition government, blaming each other for a lack of speed in the expansion of renewables. Green Party candidate Baerbock largely stayed out of the exchange of blows between the two men, mocking the two government party candidates for "trying to come to terms with the past."

 

9 September

No German party election manifesto fit for 2030 climate targets – report

None of Germany’s major political parties has a coherent concept to ensure the country gets on track towards reaching its 2030 emissions reduction target, a report conducted by DIW ECON, commissioned by the Climate Neutrality Foundation, has found. While differences between them are significant and all parties except the far-right AfD support the Paris Climate Agreement’s target of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, no party explains credibly how Germany should abide by its own Climate Action Law, the consulting company of the German Institute for Economic Research (DIW) found. “No election programme meets the law’s criteria,” the institute said.

Court ruling declaring 2018 coal protester eviction illegal deals blow to Laschet's campaign

The eviction of coal protesters in the Hambach Forest in 2018 was illegal, a court ruling in German state North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) found. The forest threatened by a nearby lignite mine had become a symbolic battleground in the context of the country's coal phase-out debate and was ultimately saved by the coal exit agreement. But the handling of the protest by conservative NRW state premier and conservative top candidate Armin Laschet has continuosly been criticised even after the agreement - and the ruling could now further damage Laschet's bid to become Germany's next chancellor.

 

7 September

Renewables industry and labour unions say energy transition must be at heart of next government's industrial policy strategy

Germany’s renewable energy association BEE and several labour unions together have called on the next government to speed up the transformation towards a climate neutral economy and protect or create as many jobs as possible in the process. Together with unions including IG Metall, DGB and IG BCE, which represents many workers from the coal industry, the renewables lobby group said an ambitious energy transition that comes with “competitive power prices” would have to be made “the central industrial policy strategy” of a new government.

 

6 September

SPD chancellor candidate promises protesters immediate climate action boost after vote

The Social Democrats’ (SPD) chancellor candidate Olaf Scholz has promised climate protesters at an election event in Berlin that his party will immediately enact ambitious climate policies if it gets the chance to form a new government. “There’s a clear indication for me: we must no longer wait and make the necessary decisions now,” Scholz said according to newspaper Taggespiegel. The SPD is enjoying a surge in polls unexpected by most observers only months ago, and now firmly leads ahead of the conservative CDU/CSU alliance and the Greens in most surveys. The stability promised by current finance minister and vice chancellor Scholz as candidate is seen as a main driver for the party’s popularity three weeks before the country heads to the ballot.

Environmental groups welcome SPD proposal for renewables expansion commission

A proposal by the Social Democrats (SPD) for a commission that prepares a fast and smooth expansion of renewable power installations across Germany has been welcomed by environmental groups, Gerald Traufetter reports for newspaper Der Spiegel. The body, modelled on the country’s coal exit commission, would bring together stakeholders from companies, politics and civil society and work on “a package that unleashes wind power expansion within the first 100 days” after it starts, said Kerstine Andreae of energy industry association BDEW. The renewables commission could quickly resolve long-standing conflicts regarding wind turbine construction and ease planning procedures, said Jörg-Andreas Krüger of NGO Naturschutzbund.

Conservatives present ‘team for future’ focussed on economic stability 

Amid historically low polling rates for his CDU/CSU alliance less than one month before the federal election, conservative chancellor candidate Armin Laschet has presented his “team for the future” of so far mostly unknown backbenchers and newcomers that is supposed to revive his bid for leading the next government. Laschet presented a team that he claims safeguards economic prosperity while delivering on other targets, particularly regarding global warming, business daily Handelsblatt reports. For climate policy, CDU MP Andreas Jung was included in the team, and said “speed” and “innovation” rather than prohibitions would form the core of a new conservative government’s energy transition approach. For economic policy, Laschet presented his former internal party rival Friedrich Merz, a darling of the conservative’s hardliner faction, who vowed to “unleash the country” with a new economic boost “that abides by the rules” of the EU’s economic and currency union. 

 

3 September

German conservatives at record low in latest poll

Germany’s conservative CDU/CSU alliance of current chancellor Angela Merkel has reached a record low in the well-known Deutschlandtrend survey. CDU/CSU stand at 20 percent of voter support, while the Social Democrats (SPD) lead the poll with 25 percent, and the Greens fell to 16 percent. Environment and climate policy topped the list of most important issues respondents see in Germany. If Germans could elect the country’s next chancellor directly, 43 percent would choose SPD candidate Olaf Scholz. He is trailed by conservative Armin Laschet (16%) and the Greens’ Annalena Baerbock (12%).

Chancellor candidates criticised for silence about climate protection costs

Climate protection has been high on the agenda in the run-up to Germany’s 26 September federal election, but one issue has been conspicuously absent from the debate: the rising costs of the energy transition, in particular the anticipated price hike on fuel. Media outlets are taking chancellor candidates to task for their obfuscation.

 

2 September

Germany currently country most concerned about climate change – surveys

Germany is currently the country most concerned about climate change out of the 28 surveyed for the August update of the “What worries the world” study by market research and consulting firm Ipsos. Climate change is one of Germans’ top three concerns, with 36 percent selecting it as their main worry.

 

1 September

German conservative politician calls EU carbon border tax plans “nonsense”

Friedrich Merz, a prominent politician of the governing conservative CDU/CSU who stands a chance to become a minister in Germany's next government, has called the European Commission proposal for an EU carbon border tax “nonsense,” contradicting his own party's election manifesto. Should the EU put such plans into action, “it will not only be the end of free trade policy. It will be the beginning of a new world trade conflict in which there will only be losers,” said Merz.

German NGOs demand highway expansion moratorium under next govt

Leading German environmental organisations are calling for an immediate halt to the construction and expansion of highways and for a new federal mobility law to be passed after the national election. The transport sector is the only major sector whose nationwide CO₂ emissions did not fall between 1990 and the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, the organisations, including Environmental Action Germany (DUH), Germanwatch and Greenpeace, write in a joint statement.

 

31 August

Next German government must triple climate action efforts – think tanks

The next German government must massively increase climate action efforts in order to triple the current average annual greenhouse gas emissions reductions, say the Climate Neutrality Foundation and the think tanks Agora Energiewende and Agora Verkehrswende. “In the first 100 days of the new government, Germany needs the biggest climate action programme in the history of the Federal Republic,” said Agora Energiewende head Patrick Graichen. “Renewable energy expansion, coal phase-out, efficiency, electrification of buildings and transport – we need a doubling or tripling of the pace in all these areas.”

German industry calls for greater speed of the energy transition

Tough and lengthy approval procedures are slowing down the energy transition, according to the Federation of German Industries (BDI). Germany loses out internationally if planned investments for climate protection are not accelerated, BDI president Siegfried Russwurm said. "It must not take more time to approve a rail project or an industrial plant than it does to actually build it,” Russwurm said. He added that Germany will quickly fall behind its own climate targets, referring to the government’s recently tightened targets of reaching climate neutrality by 2045 and 65 percent emission reductions by 2030. For industry, 2030 is “already tomorrow”, Russwurm said.

 

30 August

Chancellor candidates focus on climate and industry in first TV debate

The three German chancellor candidates from the Conservative CDU/CSU alliance, the Green Party and the Social Democrats (SPD) stressed the importance of helping German industry through the energy transition but proposed markedly different ways to do it during their first public debate broadcast.

CDU chancellor candidate Laschet unveils "energy masterplan"

Armin Laschet, North Rhine-Westphalia’s state premier and chancellor candidate of the conservative CDU/CSU alliance, has unveiled his “energy masterplan,” which calls for an ambitious new programme to subsidise the installation of solar photovoltaic systems on the roofs of homes and buildings. “We can achieve an increase of at least 10 gigawatts annually with a solar package,” Laschet wrote in a guest column in newspaper Welt am Sonntag. He said a government under his leadership would launch the Germany Roof Program with the government-owned KfW Bank to provides interest-free loans that ensure people can afford rooftop solar.

 

26 August

Most voters continue to give climate & energy high priority shortly before election

Climate action and the energy transition continue to be key election topics for a majority of voters in Germany, a survey commissioned by energy industry group BDEW has found. In the survey released one month before the election, over two thirds of respondents said they consider the two topic to be "important" (26%) or "very important" (41%). Only ten percent said they think the issues are "less important" and four percent responded they are "not important at all."

 

25 August

SPD leading in first poll one month ahead of election

The Social Democrats (SPD) are leading in one poll for the first time ever this term only a month before the election. With around 23 percent of the vote, the SPD surpasses the conservative party CDU/CSU (22%) and the Greens (18%). According to pollster Forsa, this is the first SPD-lead in 15 years and the lowest rating for Merkel's CDU/CSU since the polling station was set up in 1984.

 Almost all German parties open for ending coal well before 2038

Nearly all parties expecting to gain seats in Germany's parliament are open to completing the country's coal exit well before the official 2038 end date. At a debate event hosted by civil society group Klima-Allianz (Climate Alliance), senior politicians of all parties in parliament except the far-right AfD signalled they would consider a much earlier phase-out if conditions were right or even actively work towards achieving it.

 

20 August

Germany to widely miss 2030 climate target – draft govt report

Germany is facing a significant gap between estimated greenhouse gas emission reductions and targets over the coming 20 years, a draft government report shows. Germany recently decided to reduce emissions by 65 percent by 2030. However, without further action, they will decrease by only 49 percent by 2030, according to the new 2021 Projection Report. The environment ministry said the report is only of “very limited value” and can be seen as “outdated”, as key additional climate action taken since its cut-off date of August 2020 has not been taken into account. However, researchers said that even recently decided new measures will do little to close the gap in reaching Germany’s 2030 climate target.

 

18 August

SPD chancellor candidate Scholz says Germany should stick to coal exit agreement

Social Democrat (SPD) chancellor candidate Olaf Scholz has said Germany should stick to its existing timetable for exiting coal no later than 2038. "We have made clear agreements that are important for the companies, for the workers, and also for the region. And these agreements apply and should be respected," Scholz said during a campaign stop in East Germany's coal mining region.
Green chancellor candidate Annalena Baerbock countered that an earlier coal exit is necessary to achieve climate targets. "A coal phase-out in 2038 is not compatible with Germany's climate target. If Olaf Scholz sticks to it, he is deliberately accepting that Germany will miss its contractually agreed climate target," Baerbock said.

 

17 August

Energy transition's social impact should feature more in German election campaigns – trade union

Climate change and the energy transition should play a much greater role in Germany's election campaign, Reiner Hoffmann, head of trade union association DGB, has said. "The next government needs to demonstrate how the energy transition can be put into practice without causing social distortions," Hoffmann said, arguing that financial support and job security should be key pillars for the country's strategy to achieve climate neutrality before the middle of the century.

 

16 August

 Climate activists take to the streets of Berlin as election draws closer

Activists from the coalition group ‘August Rise Up’ took to the streets in Berlin to call for more climate action six weeks ahead of the German federal election. Around two hundred people blocked the road in front of the Brandenburg Gate for several hours, while a few dozen activists set up a sit-in demonstration a nearby park -- adding up to a lower turn-out than organisers expected. The actions kicked off a week of protests in the German capital organised by Extinction Rebellion, Fridays for Future and around 50 other climate action groups.

Rising emissions forecast sharpens climate focus in German election

Germany is set to widely miss its climate targets this year, according to a think tank analysis that adds pressure on the chancellor contestants to present plans for rapid emissions cuts. Six weeks before the country's general elections on 26 September, Agora Energiewende forecast that Germany's greenhouse gas emissions will increase by around six percent as the economy rebounds from the effects of the coronavirus pandemic. The renewables industry called the projected rise a "climate policy disaster," while activists urged chancellor candidates to outline how they intend to put climate policy back on track.

 

12 August

Uniper says German election outcome could pose risk for Nord Stream 2 pipeline

German energy group Uniper, which is involved in the financing of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, is seeing risks for the project even after Germany and the U.S. reached an agreement on its completion. “The last few weeks were good weeks for Nord Stream, but I would not say that the risk is completely eliminated,” said Uniper CEO Klaus-Dieter Maubach. “It is possible that the federal election or possible coalitions will have an influence on the question of what happens next with Nord Stream,” he argued.

 

10 August

Bleak IPCC report on global warming underpins climate action's weight in elections

German politicians and other stakeholders said the latest major report on climate change by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is an urgent warning that rapid emission cuts are needed to keep the Paris Agreement target of limiting global warming to 1.5°C or 2°C within reach. The report was published just weeks after devastating floods shook western Germany and neighbouring countries, and put climate action front and centre of the ongoing national election campaign.

 

6 August

Green Party list in small state of Saarland excluded from ballot during German election

The regional list of Germany’s Green Party will be excluded from the ballot in the state of Saarland during the national election, the federal election committee announced. The decision follows an internal dispute over the party’s candidate list. The selection of the Saarland Greens’ lead candidate Hubert Ulrich was declared invalid because non-voting members had also cast their votes. The state arbitration tribunal also found violations of the party’s women’s statute, because the party usually reserves the first place on the list for a woman. This led to the internal vote for the candidates list being repeated, but this time about one third of all voting delegates were excluded. Both the state election committee and the federal election committee found it to be in breach with democratic principles to conduct the vote after excluding so many delegates.

German election manifestos not in line with 2045 net-zero target – climate economist

None of the German parties’ election manifestos is in line with the country’s goal of reaching climate neutrality by 2045, climate economist at the ifo Institute Karen Pittel said. Although the programmes mention the issue of climate protection frequently, none of them shows “reliable ways” to achieve net-zero by 2045 or reduce emissions by 65 percent by 2030, Pittel tells the newspaper. She adds that “an honest analysis is missing” from the programmes, for example when it comes to the issue of the CO2 price, which she says should be raised significantly.

 

5 Aug

Greens’ climate ministry proposal faces opposition by other parties’ candidates

Chancellor candidates Armin Laschet (conservative CDU/CSU) and Olaf Scholz (Social Democrats – SPD) have come out against the Green Party proposal to install a climate ministry in the next government with a veto right over other ministries. “Climate action is the chancellor's job,” Laschet – the most likely candidate to replace chancellor Angela Merkel according to current polls – told Rheinische Post. He added that all cabinet members would have to contribute to transform the country’s economy and make it climate neutral. “Smart climate action is a cross-sectoral task and not a veto job of a green minister,” said the state premier of North Rhine-Westphalia. Social Democrats’ candidate and current finance minister Olaf Scholz said he would make climate action a top priority task of the chancellor, should he become Germany’s next leader. “Climate action will be driven forward in the chancellery,” he wrote in a message on Twitter.

 

4 Aug

Greens’ climate programme “tactically clever but dishonest” – media commentators

German media commentators have taken a closer look at the Green Party’s climate action emergency programme for the first 100 days of government – should they become part of a ruling coalition after the election on 26 September. Climate action is “the straw that the Greens grasped at” after the flood disaster to put issues front and centre of the election campaign, following several setbacks surrounding chancellor candidate Annalena Baerbock, writes Michael Bauchmüller in an opinion piece in Süddeutsche Zeitung. The emergency programme contains much of what the election manifesto already stipulates, “but often more uncompromising”, he writes. The Greens’ climate programme is “tactically clever but dishonest”, writes Klaus Stratmann in business daily Handelsblatt. The Greens are “clever enough” to remain vague on key questions such as what happens with the CO2 price on transport and heating fuels beyond 2023. The Green Party is back in “attack mode” with its programme, writes Katharina Schuler in Zeit. While the party had held back with demands for more climate action following the recent devastating floods in parts of Germany for fear of being accused of exploiting the situation, the climate programme is the “climax of their new attack”.

 

3 Aug

Green Party calls for German climate protection ministry with veto power

If they are part of a future government, the German Greens want to install a climate protection ministry that has the right to veto other ministry’s plans in case they are not compatible with the Paris Climate Agreement, party leaders Annalena Baerbock and Robert Habeck announced during a press conference. The climate protection ministry is to lead a "climate task force", which would convene weekly in a federal government meeting and steer policy towards the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5-degrees Celsius.

FDP head Lindner says pro-business party aims at Green voters "who want technology and freedom"

Germany's climate policy needs a "restart" that overcomes current administrative and technologic barriers, Christian Lindner, head of pro-business party FDP, said in an interview with newspaper Welt am Sonntag. "We want to woo Green voters that consider climate action a priority but who also want technology and freedom," Lindner said. "Everyone wants climate action," Lindner argued with a view with to the importance climate change plays in the German parties' election manifestos. But in contrast to the Green Party, which "wants to control us all with ever more detailed prescriptions”, the FDP bets on greater individual freedom to steer the economy towards greenhouse gas neutrality, Lindner said. "Ultimately, a lot comes down to prohibition or restriction," the FDP head said about the Greens' climate policies, adding that the ecologist party even would "demonise economic growth." His party, on the other hand, would favour "market-based approaches" that are supposed to automatically favour the best technologies available.

Parties' election programmes are not in line with Paris Agreement - Fridays for Future

None of the election programmes of the established parties are in line with the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celcius, as outlined in the Paris Agreement in 2015, climate activists from Fridays for Future told dpa. "It's all about distant targets and very little about concrete measures to reduce emissions now. Yet the coming legislative period is the last in which we can still make a contribution to achieving the 1.5-degree limit. Measures must be taken to reduce emissions as quickly as possible," says activist Carla Reemtsma. She adds "social pressure from below" is needed, referring to the protests the action group has planned for the period leading up to federal election in September. Read more on how the climate movement aims to influence German climate policy.

 

2 August

German parliament's president Schäuble says fast rise of CO2 price is necessary

A quick increase of Germany's CO2 price in the heating and transport sector is "exactly the right way forward" to ensure the country is achieving lower emissions in a cost-efficient way, conservative (CDU) politician Wolfgang Schäuble, president of the German parliament, has said. "I've always considered a higher price on CO2 to be adequate. And this has to happen faster." The former finance minister said politicians should be more honest to voters regarding the costs of climate action ahead of September's election. "We should tell people that the necessary measures will cost everyone. We're not being honest if we say that these structural changes will not affect everyone individually because that's not the truth."

German debate about coal end date 2038 heats up in election campaign

The debate about Germany's decision to shut down the last coal-fired power plant by 2038 at the latest has intensified in the election campaign. Economy minister Peter Altmaier expects the country to complete its coal power phase-out earlier than the original deadline. "The coal exit will happen faster than initially thought, as it is fuelled by the significant rise in the European emissions trading system (ETS)", Altmaier said.
Altmaier's comments mirrored those of the CDU's candidate for chancellor, Armin Laschet, from an interview with public broadcaster ZDF. Following that interview, Laschet has been heavily criticised by environmental NGOs that were part of Germany's so-called coal commission for saying that the NGOs had agreed to the 2038 end date. "Laschet is either lying or misinformed," said Olaf Bandt of BUND.

 

28 July

Climate change becomes bigger priority for German voters in wake of flood catastrophe

A larger number of German voters have listed climate change as a top priority following the devastating floods in Rhineland-Palatinate and North Rhine-Westphalia, polling group Allensbach Institute for Demoscopy said. According to a survey by the organisation, 52 percent say they are “very concerned” about climate change, compared to 46 percent at the beginning of the year. The majority said they followed coverage of the floods intensely, and 62 percent said they saw a direct relationship between the catastrophe and climate change.

Post-Merkel government will likely be greener partner in EU – Deutsche Bank

A post-Merkel coalition government is likely to help drive forward the EU’s climate targets, an analysis by Deutsche Bank has concluded. In a paper, analysts for the bank concluded that a coalition consisting of the Green Party, the conservative CDU and potentially also the liberal FDP would be pro-EU integration and pro-green policies. The bank stated that either coalition is likely to move decarbonisation of the bloc centre-stage and is likely to revise and expand the European Emissions Trading System (EU ETS).

 

27 July

German Greens call for central office for disaster management after deadly floods

The Green Party has called for the installment of a central office for disaster management in light of recent catastrophic floods that hit Germany. "We can't go on like before," said the party’s co-leader and chancellor candidate Annalena Baerbock during a press conference, during which she presented a 10-point paper for better disaster protection. Germany cannot afford the conservative party’s “climate confusion”, she added. “It is a danger for the people in the country, for Germany as an industrial location and for the security of supply.” Baerbock demanded the next government tackles the issue of climate change on three levels: mitigation, adaptation and so-called ‘loss and damages’ in case of extreme weather events. The Greens are set to present an adaptation strategy for climate-related extreme weather events on 29 July as well as an emergency climate protection programme in the week of 2 August.

 

26 July

German coal exit will be quicker due to CO2 price – chancellor candidate Laschet

The CO2 price will cause the coal exit in Germany to happen faster than agreed, said conservative chancellor candidate Armin Laschet in an interview with public broadcaster ZDF. “Personally, I believe the exit will happen quicker than we all think due to the CO2 price,” said the candidate currently most likely to succeed Angela Merkel as German leader. However, this did not mean Germany should re-open its hard fought-over compromise to phase out coal by 2038 at the latest.

 

23 July

Climate activists demand faster energy transition after flood disaster hits Germany

Activists are protesting for better climate protection measures after catastrophic floods hit several parts of Germany last week. On 23 July, environmental group Robin Wood kicks off a three-week raft tour from Berlin to Hamburg in order to push for a faster energy transition. “We need a rapid expansion of decentralised renewables, the promotion of energy efficiency, and the elimination of all government funding for fossil fuels,” the group said.

Green party leader criticises Nord Stream 2 deal 

Green party co-leader and chancellor candidate Annalena Baerbock has criticised the Nord Stream 2 agreement with the U.S. government. On 21 July, Berlin and Washington reached a deal that will allow the completion of the natural gas pipeline connecting Russia to Germany. "I still think this pipeline is wrong, for climate policy reasons, but above all geostrategically," Baerbock said. She argued the pipeline endangers Ukraine’s security and is aimed at splitting the European Union, adding that Eastern Europeans are "rightly angry" with the German government "for unilaterally sticking to this pipeline."

Bavarian CSU presents own supplement to conservatives' national manifesto

The CSU (Christian Social Union) – the conservative Bavarian sister party and government coalition partner of chancellor Angela Merkel’s CDU  – has presented its own election manifesto to complement the joint programme by the CDU/CSU alliance and set its own tone for possible coalition talks. The Bavarian party did not mention calls for a quicker German coal exit – a demand CSU head Markus Söder has repeatedly floated – or especially contentious state energy policy issues such as wind turbine distance rules. Instead, the CSU highlighted that it wants to make Bavaria the first climate neutral German state, by 2040, and called for a federal programme for moorland protection. In a nod to its large rural voter base, the CSU also aims to increase the commuter allowance commensurate with the rise in CO2 prices on transport fuels and to introduce a “climate bonus” for private investments in climate-friendly technologies, for example in more efficient household appliances or heating systems.

 

22 July

Bavarian conservative state premier Söder wants coal phase-out by 2030

In light of the catastrophic floods that hit Germany, including Bavaria, last week, Bavarian state premier Markus Söder (CSU) has said more effort is needed to combat climate change. “We can and must do more,” said Söder during his statement in the Bavarian parliament, adding that he  wants to renegotiate the end-date of Germany’s coal phase-out after the federal election.

 

21 July

Climate protection plans need a ‘social deal’ – trade union head

Climate protection plans need a stronger focus on social equality, Reiner Hoffman, head of the German Confederation of Trade Unions (DGB), has said. The EU Green Deal, a comprehensive package of climate measures aimed at achieving net-zero emission by 2050, must also become a “social deal,” he argued. “Today, the lowest-income households are most affected by climate policy choices – whether you take the cost of heating or transport,” Hoffman said. 

 

19 July

Merkel says Germany must do more to fight climate crisis in light of deadly floods

Chancellor Angela Merkel says Germany has to increase its climate protection efforts after catastrophic floods killed over 150 people in the country. The disaster has brought climate change to the centre of the election campaign. After visiting the affected areas, chancellor candidates Armin Laschet (CDU), Annalena Baerbock (Greens) and Olaf Scholz (SPD) all called for the acceleration of climate action efforts.

 

16 July

Deadly floods sharpen focus on climate change in German election campaign

Catastrophic floods that killed more than 90 people in Germany have been widely linked to climate change, swinging the issue into focus ahead of Germany’s election campaign. Both Conservative chancellor candidate Armin Laschet and Social Democrat rival Olaf Scholz visited regions that were heavily affected by one of the worst natural disasters in the country's post-war history. Like many other politicians, scientists and media reports, they drew a connection to rising temperatures.

 

12 July

Germany should combine climate action with strong social policy – Fridays for Future leader

Germany’s political parties should combine climate protection measures with strong social policy, Fridays for Future frontwoman Luisa Neubauer said in an interview with Tagesspiegel Background. The 25-year-old climate activist said Germany has many issues regarding social inequality, for example in the areas of housing, education and health, but these should not be used as an excuse to stall on climate policy. “The problem is not climate protection, but antisocial policies.”

CDU chancellor candidate Laschet expects landlords to share in CO2 heating costs

Conservative chancellor candidate Armin Laschet, who is currently most likely to succeed Angela Merkel following Germany's general elections in September, said landlords are likely to share with tenants the rising heating costs resulting from the country's CO2 price on heating fuels – but provided no proposal or details. "The current solution, that the landlord pays virtually nothing, will not stand," said Laschet.

 

9 July

Protecting the climate 'won't require major sacrifices' - SPD's Scholz

Despite all the changes that are necessary to protect the climate, “there won’t have to be any major sacrifices”, Social Democrat (SPD) chancellor candidate Olaf Scholz told weekly newspaper Die Zeit in an interview. “It is an elitist attitude when those who are financially secure and can afford a new car and expensive flights preach sacrifices to those who cannot do so easily,” Scholz, who is currently finance minister in the Merkel coalition government, said. It is for Germany to show how prosperity and climate protection can go hand in hand, he explained. Scholz argued that a ban on combustion engines won’t be necessary because the automobile industry will get rid of fossil fuelled cars all by itself in the foreseeable future.

 

8 July

Social cohesion and industrial strength at stake on path to climate neutrality – CDU's Laschet

The candidate for chancellor of Germany's conservative CDU/CSU alliance, Armin Laschet, has said the country's "social cohesion" and the survival of its mighty industrial base are his biggest worries regarding climate change. In an interview with newspaper Die Zeit, Laschet stressed the "social question" would be one of his central concerns in the struggle against global warming, arguing that an end to Germany's renewables surcharge would reduce costs for electricity across the board and help to avoid social hardships.

Baerbock says German Greens say will only enter a government aiming for 1.5 degree goal

The German Green Party's candidate for chancellor, Annalena Baerbock, has said her party would "not enter into a government that doesn't do everything in its power to get on a path compatible with the 1.5 degree goal" of the Paris Agreement. In an interview with weekly newspaper Die Zeit, Baerbock said the most important task for Germany's next government following the September elections would be to launch "an immediate climate action programme" that spells out a wide range of measures to curb greenhouse gas emissions, most importantly a rapid expansion of renewable power sources and an earlier coal phase-out.

 

2 July

Conservative CDU/CSU stabilise top position in polls as Greens falter

The German conservative CDU/CSU alliance has stabilised its position as the country's most popular party again, relegating the Green Party firmly to the second place, according to a survey commissioned by news magazine Der Spiegel. Roughly three months before the election at the end of September, 29 percent of respondents said they would be voting for the conservative alliance, whereas the Greens would receive 22 percent of the vote. Nearly half (45 percent) of respondents said that environmental and climate policy are determining factors in their decision.

Climate activists establish new national party, stop short of eying 2021 elections

The German activist group Climate List (Klimaliste) has announced the establishment of a new national political party, but will not yet run in the upcoming federal elections in September. Klimaliste said it will instead support climate activists running for parliament as direct candidates. With the founding of a national party, Klimaliste aims to “challenge the established parties." Their core aim is to gear German politics towards a clear commitment to limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

 

30 June

President Steinmeier says climate policy ideas will dominate election

German president Frank-Walter Steinmeier has cautioned that tackling climate change will require "giant steps" by governments and citizens around the world if global warming is to be limited to 2 degrees Celsius. He stressed that climate change is a key issue in the September federal elections, as shown by the central role it plays in most parties' manifestos. Steinmeier argued that "there's no dodging of the question whether and when Germany will reach climate neutrality for any party."

 

28 June

Conservative group releases climate position paper, urging CDU/CSU alliance to raise ambitions

The conservative climate group KlimaUnion (ClimateUnion), which is made up of party members of the governing CDU/CSU alliance, released a position paper in which the members argue that Germany could become the world's first industrialised country running on 100-percent renewable energy supply as early as 2030. At the same time, targeted deregulation to lure investors means the energy transition could simultaneously reduce citizens’ expenses on transport, heating and power use, the group said.

 

23 June                                  

German industry calls for clarity about next government's energy transition ambitions

Industry representatives have called for more clarity about the next government’s climate protection plans, and demanded that framework conditions for more climate protection in companies be significantly improved. Siegfried Russwurm, president of the Federation of German Industries (BDI), said the government has yet to make urgently necessary directional decisions. "It is not enough to stipulate climate neutrality by law," he argued.

 

21 June

Conservatives' manifesto seen as weak on climate; Left Party tables most ambitious plan

The manifesto of Germany’s conservative CDU/CSU alliance for the upcoming national election remains vague on climate and energy, leaving plenty of leeway for possible government coalition negotiations. The bloc of chancellor candidate Armin Laschet presented an election programme which signals continuity with policies of outgoing leader Angela Merkel. Conservatives aim to make Germany a “climate neutral industrial nation” by 2045 – a target the government recently decided already – and bet on European carbon pricing to bolster German climate action.

Germany’s Left Party has agreed the most radical election programme yet in terms of climate protection goals and. Other leading parties are also demanding tougher and faster measures to reduce CO2 and the ruling conservative-Social Democrat coalition recently tightened its own Climate Action Law, moving forward the climate neutrality target by five years to 2045. The Left, however, has now raised the stakes with its goal of making Germany climate-neutral by 2035 and complete the coal exit by 2030.

Find an overview of all major parties' climate and energy proposals here.

 

18 June

Fridays for Future activists return to German streets ahead of national election

The student climate protest movement Fridays for Future (FfF) announces to bring activists to the streets in 25 German cities on 18 June. As German COVID-19 pandemic restrictions start to be relaxed, the activist group said it aims to protest every Friday in the run-up to the country's federal elections, especially in larger cities like Berlin, Cologne and Hamburg.

 

17 June

Next German government must introduce end date for fossil fuels – think tanks

Germany’s next government after the September election must quickly introduce measures and instruments to ensure the country reaches the increased climate targets, say the Climate Neutrality Foundation and the think tanks Agora Energiewende and Agora Verkehrswende.

 

16 June

Chancellor candidates agree Germany must cut red tape to speed up renewables roll-out

The chancellor candidates of the country’s major parties met face to face on 16 June to discuss climate and energy issues at an event organised by energy industry association BDEW. Three months before the vote on 26 September, the debate showed broad agreement on the necessity to speed up the renewables roll-out with more rapid approval procedures, and the need for gas as a bridging technology. But candidates offered different views on whether the gas pipeline Nord Stream 2 should be completed.

 

15 June

Conservatives ponder earlier switch to market-based CO2 price for transport and heating

The conservative CDU/CSU union of outgoing chancellor Angela Merkel aims for an earlier switch from fixed prices to market-based prices in Germany’s new carbon pricing system for transport and heating fuels, Reuters and other media report based on draft ideas for the upcoming election manifesto.

 

14 June

Greens decide against ratcheting up party’s climate plans as bid for chancellery flounders

The German Greens opt for a moderate climate policy path at a party conference and officially anointed party co-leader Annalena Baerbock as chancellor candidate for the September elections. Facing a recent dip in the polls, delegates follow a plea by party leadership and reject calls for more radical and controversial steps to fight climate change.

 

11 June

Green congress delegates push for more radical manifesto as party drops in polls

Green delegates push for more ambitious climate policies in the party's election manifesto to be finalised at a party congress over the weekend, as the party seeks to stem a recent slide in the polls.

On her way out, Merkel could set stage for Germany as even more progressive climate partner

As the global fight against climate change gains momentum with more and more countries updating their emissions targets, a green surge washes over Germany’s national election campaign and sets the scene for the country to become a more progressive partner in the international climate space. Government and opposition outbid each other to make sure they can provide the country’s next leader, as “Climate Chancellor” Angela Merkel steps down after 16 years in office. Political analysts believe that Germany will continue to be a reliable partner over the coming months and likely a more progressive ally in the fight against global warming after the September vote.

 

7 June

Merkel's conservatives win election in Eastern German coal mining state

Merkel's conservatives win a surprisingly clear victory in the eastern German state of Saxony-Anhalt, in a boost for the bloc's candidate for chancellor Armin Laschet in September's general election. According to preliminary results, Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU) win 37.1 percent of votes, a gain of more than 7 points compared to the last election in 2016. The right-wing populist AfD comes second with 20.8 percent, followed by 11 percent for the left-wing Die Linke, 8.4 percent for the Social Democrats (SPD), 5.9 percent for the Greens and 6.4 percent for the pro-business Free Democrats (FDP). Although regional issues in the state differ from the rest of the country, the vote was seen as a last test before the federal elections on 26 September.  Whereas climate change is a decisive issue for nearly three-quarters of voters in the whole of the country, the topic was not a top priority for voters in the east German state.

 

4 June

Greens’ Baerbock plans to support industry in transformation

The Green Party chancellor candidate Annalena Baerbock wants to support German industries in their transformation to climate-friendly production with so-called carbon contracts for difference, she tells business daily Handelsblatt. In essence, the state would compensate companies for the additional costs of climate-neutral production. Currently, energy-intensive industrial companies trade allowances for their CO2 emissions within the framework of the EU emissions trading scheme (EU ETS). These have generally been cheaper than if the companies were to produce climate-neutrally on the basis of hydrogen, for example. “We have to make up this difference,” said Baerbock. The proposal is also part of the Greens' draft election manifesto.

 

3 June

East German state election highlights political conflicts of energy transition

Voters in the east German state of Saxony-Anhalt head to the ballot box on 6 June to elect a new state government. Home to one of Germany’s three main coal mining regions, the state is dealing with the transition away from lignite mining in light of the country’s coal exit – making structural economic change and job security key election issues. With the governing CDU in tight race in the polls with the climate change-denying populist Alternative for Germany (AfD), the situation looks quite different from the national level, where the Green Party has been experiencing a large boost in a close race with chancellor Merkel’s conservative bloc. Although regional issues in the east German state differ from the rest of the country, the vote is a last test before the federal elections on 26 September, drawing attention to the political conflicts at play in a region significantly affected by the energy transition.

Debate over CO2 price makes social fairness key issue in German election campaign

Debates about Germany’s carbon price on heating and transport fuels put the question of who can and should pay for climate action at the centre of election campaigning.

 

2 June

SPD chancellor candidate Scholz aims to make climate central issue of next legislative period

Social Democrat chancellor candidate Scholz tells news agency dpa he aims to make the fight against climate change the central issue in the coming legislative period. "After 250 years of using coal, gas and oil, we now have to transform our economy completely to renewable energies within just 25 years," the vice-chancellor told dpa. "This is tantamount to a second industrial revolution. This is where we must focus all our efforts now."

Former Siemens head Joe Kaeser advocates for Green candidate Baerbock

Joe Kaeser, former CEO of Siemens, advocates for Green Party chancellor candidate Baerbock, reports Süddeutsche Zeitung. “Annalena Baerbock doubtless has the greatest credibility for sustainable and long-term renewal,” he told the newspaper. "In terms of her perceptiveness and interest, she reminds me a lot of our current Chancellor."

 

1 June

German parties debate higher CO2 prices on petrol and autobahn speed limit

The Greens’ chancellor candidate Annalena Baerbock reiterates her party’s call for a more rapidly rising CO2 price on transport fuels (check here for current plans), which would make petrol and diesel more expensive, and a 130 kilometre-per-hour speed limit on Germany’s Autobahn system in an interview with tabloid Bild. The party made these proposals in their draft election programme. Left Party politicians such as Sahra Wagenknecht criticises higher petrol prices. She calls it “socially unfair and poor alibi policy” and says the rich will hardly notice, while low-income households in rural areas might have no alternative to using their cars. In their draft programme, the Greens proposed an “energy bonus” for citizens, with which the revenues from the CO2 price would be paid back to citizens.

Energy industry calls on next German govt to increase 2030 renewables share to 70%

Germany’s energy industry association BDEW calls on the next German government to introduce much more ambitious energy and climate policy, including: increase the share of renewables in the power mix to 70 percent by 2030 (current target: 65%), abandon the renewables levy by 2026 at the latest and instead finance expansion through CO2 price revenues and the federal budget.

 

27 May

For German youth activists, climate justice means more than getting to net-zero

As climate protection has become a mainstream issue in German politics, taking up centre-stage in the election programmes of most parties, youth climate activists are broadening the scope of their activism. The Fridays for Future school strikers are speaking up about social issues including racism, feminism, LGBTQ rights, and economic inequality.

Next govt must ensure faster renewables ramp-up and earlier coal exit to reach new climate targets - Wuppertal Institute

The next government after the September election should turn Germany's ambitious climate goals into concrete policies and involve all citizens in doing so, the Wuppertal Institute for climate, environment and energy writes in a package of recommendations.

 

17 May

German Free Democrats call for strict CO2 budget in election programme

Germany’s pro-business Free Democratic Party (FDP) is putting a market-centered approach to climate policy at the heart of its federal election campaign. The party is calling for a strict CO2 budget, which would be achieved through “a comprehensive emissions trading system” according to the election programme.

German chancellor candidates target cheap flights over climate concerns

As Germany’s election year campaigning heats up, political leaders hoping to succeed chancellor Angela Merkel take aim at cheap flights and domestic air travel as they seek to make climate policy a fundamental part of their political agendas.

 

12 May

German government agrees on pulling forward climate neutrality to 2045

The German government gives the green light to the necessary legal changes to speed up the country's bid for climate neutrality, aiming to hit the goal five years earlier in 2045.

 

10 May

German Social Democrats adopt new climate targets at party conference

Germany’s Social Democratic Party (SPD) adopt stricter climate targets as part of its federal election platform. The SPD, part of Germany’s ruling coalition with Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative CDU/CSU alliance, agrees to the goal of making Germany climate-neutral by 2045 at the latest.

 

7 May

Green chancellor candidate Baerbock envisions ‘transatlantic green deal,’ calls for halt to Nord Stream 2

The co-leader of the German Greens, Annalena Baerbock, emphasises possibilities for closer cooperation between Germany and the U.S. on issues including climate action at a virtual event of the Atlantic Council. Baerbock also calls for an end to the construction of the controversial Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline.

 

6 May

Climate protection cornerstone of govt coalition agreement in Baden-Württemberg

The Green Party and the conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU) conclude a new coalition agreement in the southern German state of Baden-Württemberg following the 14 March elections there. Climate protection is one of the most important issues for the new government.

 

5 May

Germany to pull forward target date for climate neutrality to 2045

The German government agrees to aim for climate neutrality as early as 2045, pulling forward its previous target by five years as part of more ambitious plans to cut greenhouse gases. In a draft climate law reform, the government also plans to propose to reduce emissions by 65 percent by 2030 (from the current goal of 55%) and introduce a new target of an 88 percent reduction by 2040. The move follows a landmark climate ruling from Germany’s top court.

 

3 May

Court ruling puts spotlight on climate as German election campaign picks up speed

The landmark ruling from Germany’s top court catapults climate to the top of the political debate as government coalition partners shift into election campaign mode, blame each other for shortcomings of the country’s Climate Action Law and promise a first reform proposal quickly.

New German state governments agree to focus on climate 

The new coalition governments in the German states of Rhineland-Palatinate and Baden-Württemberg are set to commit to ambitious climate protection plans following the elections in March.

 

29 April

Landmark ruling from German top court: key climate legislation falls short

In an unexpected decision widely hailed as historic, Germany's highest court rules that the government's climate legislation is insufficient, lacking detail on emission reduction targets beyond 2030. The decision “significantly strengthens” climate action by ruling that if the government fails to protect the climate, it could violate citizens’ fundamental rights. It also puts climate at the centre of the election campaign.

 

26 April

German Greens want higher CO2 price and ramp-up of hydrogen production

The Greens want to restructure the electricity market to significantly expand the share of renewable energies, according to a position paper from the party’s parliamentary group.

CDU/CSU budget expert calls for higher CO₂ price to finance renewables levy

The vice chairman of the CDU/CSU parliamentary group Andreas Jung launches a new climate programme for the party, Gerald Traufetter reports in Der Spiegel. In order for Germany to achieve the EU’s increased climate targets for 2030, Jung proposes to implement a higher CO₂ price, which is currently at 25 euros per tonne of CO2 and applies in the heating and transport sectors. The revenue should be used to finance the surcharge on renewable electricity, so as to “relieve citizens and the economy with a reduction in electricity prices,” Jung says.

 

22 April

SPD chancellor candidate Scholz wants EU-wide carbon price for heating and transport

The European Union should establish a new carbon trading system for transport and heating, says Olaf Scholz, German finance minister and lead candidate for the Social Democrats in the autumn general elections.

Next German government has to make climate action mainstream in politics – NGOs

The coming legislative period is decisive in implementing the sustainable transformation in all economic sectors, a group of German environmental NGOs says while presenting its demands for the next government.

 

20 April

Conservatives choose Laschet as chancellor candidate, signalling post-Merkel continuity

Germany’s Conservatives choose Armin Laschet as their leading candidate for the national election in September, signalling continuity with the era of Chancellor Angela Merkel and ending a days-long power struggle with top rival Bavarian state premier Markus Söder. Laschet, who governs Germany's most populous state, the traditional industry and coal mining heartland of North Rhine-Westphalia, is seen as a centrist likely to follow the moderate course of current chancellor Merkel. In the race against his main contender – newly-chosen Green Party candidate Annalena Baerbock – Laschet can point to his government experience. However, he is likely to face criticism for his somewhat ambiguous energy and climate policy record.

 

19 April

Greens name 40-year old Annalena Baerbock as candidate for German chancellor

The German Green Party unveils Annalena Baerbock as their candidate for chancellor, touted as the party's first ever serious contender to lead the government in Europe's largest economy. In her nomination speech as the only female candidate to succeed Angela Merkel, Baerbock says she wants to make climate action "the yardstick for all sectors" in order to fulfil the Paris Agreement. "Climate action is the task of our time, the task of my generation." The Greens' smooth and professional selection process stands in sharp contrast to the Conservatives' ongoing bitter power struggle over the candidacy to succeed Merkel after the September general elections.

 

14 April

Pro-business Free Democrats bet on emissions trading in election manifesto

Germany's pro-business Free Democratic Party (FDP) plans to enter the election campaign with a pledge to extend emissions trading as the main tool for fighting climate change. The party wants to "extend the EU emissions trading to all sectors and other geographic areas as quickly as possible" in order to protect the climate "in a market-based and scientifically secure manner," the party's draft manifesto says.

 

13 April

Conservative candidates put focus on climate as they enter open race for campaign top spot

CDU head Armin Laschet and his CSU counterpart Markus Söder enter an open power struggle to become the conservative alliance’s candidate in Germany’s chancellor race, both putting climate action at the top of their bids.

Departure of key conservative energy MP could give “new momentum” to renewables talks – SPD

The departure of a second MP from a key energy policy position in Germany’s government coalition negotiations could give “new momentum” to negotiations about renewables expansion, says Matthias Miersch, deputy head of the Social Democratic (SPD) parliamentary group.

German Left Party outflanks Greens on climate action - Tagesspiegel Background

The German Left Party (Die Linke) looks set to out-green the Green Party as it enters this year’s federal elections with what could be the most ambitious climate protection policies of any party in the Bundestag, Tagesspiegel Background reports.

 

9 April

“We need a Green Deal for Germany” – Bavarian CSU head Söder

Germany needs to do more on climate, Markus Söder, leader of the Bavarian conservative CSU and potential chancellor candidate in this year’s national election, tells Spiegel in an interview. “We need a Green Deal for Germany.”

Conservative politicians set up climate group, call for climate neutrality in 10-20 years

Parliamentarians and other politicians from German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative CDU/CSU alliance (known as “Union”) form a climate group – the so-called “Climate Union” to push their parties to introduce policy in line with the Paris Agreement’s 1.5° target. The group is meant to create a network of climate-committed conservatives ahead of the September elections, to establish a majority within CDU and CSU for a resolute 1.5-degree climate policy to make Germany climate-neutral by 2040 at the very latest

 

7 April

Choice of candidates to kick off German chancellor race

German observers anxiously await ruling conservatives and the Greens to kick off the 2021 national election race in earnest by naming their respective leading candidates to take over the helm of Europe’s biggest economy in autumn. While the country has firmly set sails for climate neutrality by 2050, the camps’ choices could prove critical for the speed of the energy transition in this decade.

 

6 April

Greens and conservatives to form coalition to make Baden-Württemberg “climate action state”

The Green Party and the Christian Democrats (CDU) in the state of Baden-Württemberg decide to enter coalition negotiations with the goal to make the southern German region “an international benchmark as a climate action state”.

 

19 March

Lobbying scandal halts German renewables talks, shakes up election outlook

The lobbying scandal engulfing Angela Merkel's Conservatives derails important talks about Germany's plans for rolling out renewables. The affair also dampens the Conservatives' hopes of an unchallenged victory in September's general elections.

 

18 March

German Greens enter election campaign with climate investment plan

The German Greens propose a large public investment programme to support the transition to a climate-friendly economy and a phase-out of combustion engine car sales by 2030 in their draft election manifesto. Germany should invest an additional 50 billion euros per year, for example in "climate-neutral infrastructures, charging stations, railway expansion, emission-free buses and modern urban development," as well as fast internet connections, biotech and quantum computing, the draft says. "This is how the socio-ecological transformation succeeds, how we create sustainable prosperity and secure the competitiveness of our country."

 

16 March

Conservative MPs propose makeover of energy tax system based on CO2 price

A group of 29 MPs of Germany's conservative Christian Democrats (CDU) has proposed a radical makeover of Germany's system of taxes, levies and surcharges on energy and base them on a high CO2 price aligned with international climate targets. In a paper titled "Policies for a green zero", the members of Chancellor Angela Merkel's governing party propose to do away with all existing subsidies for fossil fuels as well as with the renewables surcharge (EEG levy), the aviation levy and the vehicle tax by 2025, collectively amounting to 80 billion euros per year. Instead, they argue that Germany's carbon price that was introduced at the beginning of the year should rise more quickly than currently planned. On balance, this could even lead to "the greatest tax cut in years," the conservative MPs argued.

 

15 March

German state votes deal blow to CDU's post-Merkel hopes while Greens get boost

"Super election year" 2021 in Germany has been kicked off with a resounding defeat of Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative CDU in two state elections that saw the party incur historic losses. For the rivalling Green Party and the Social Democrats (SPD), the votes in Baden-Württemberg and Rhineland-Palatinate have brought fresh hope that the conservatives' sway might fade away when popular long-time leader Merkel retires after the national elections in September. The Green Party was able to celebrate record win in wealthy state Baden-Württemberg. It also largely fended off competition from a new climate party launched only months earlier that has vowed to sting the Greens into demanding even more ambitious climate policy. Only losing a few percentage points to the 'Climate List' could hamper the Greens' prospects for forming a centre-left coalition that could bring the country its first Green chancellor.

 

9 March

Vote in German carmaker state foreshadows national election struggles amid CDU/CSU mask procurement affair 

The state election in Baden-Wurttemberg is likely to come down to a contest for leadership between the Green Party and Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative CDU party. This race looks set to also dominate the national elections, with the difference will be that the Greens already govern in the state known for its strong automotive industry and which is anxious that the shift to electric cars could undermine its prosperity. The CDU's prospects for the vote in the state and in a parallel state election in smaller Rhineland-Palatinate are dimmed by an affair in the conservative over hygienic mask procurement deals in the state's COVID-19 response that MPs are said to have used for personal gain.

 

2 March

Germany's only Green state premier says conservatives copy his policies

The only state premier from the Green Party in Germany, Winfried Kretschmann from Baden-Wurttemberg, says the state's conservative CDU party has largely adopted his own party's stance on many environmental topics to lure away potential Green voters at the upcoming state elections on 14 March.  The 72-year old who governs the wealthy and highly industrialised state in the country's Southwest since 2011, said the CDU's pledges to reconcile climate action with economic growth are "purely Kretschmann."

 

1 March

German SPD’s climate-heavy election programme includes Autobahn speed limit

The Social Democratic Party (SPD) has compiled a first draft of its election programme that puts great emphasis on climate action as the "challenge of the century." In the draft seen by Clean Energy Wire, the SPD says it will support controversial climate action measures like a general speed limit on German motorways, an idea that has so far been considered a no-go for most politicians and was mainly propagated by the Green Party. "We will introduce a speed limit of 130 kilometres per hour on the Autobahn. This protects the environment and greatly reduces the number of accidents," the smaller coalition partner in Germany's government together with Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative CDU/CSU alliance writes.

 

NGO alliance calls for exiting all fossil fuels by early 2040s ahead of German elections

Germany must phase out coal by 2030, oil and fossil gas by the early 2040s and base its energy system on renewables, NGO network Climate-Alliance Germany has said. In a paper spelling out the network members’ demands seven months ahead of the national elections, the group also called on the next government to expand the share of renewables to 75 percent of total power consumption by the end of the decade.

 

17 February

Young German conservative politicians want to improve party’s climate image

Young politicians in chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU) want to improve the party's image as a driver of climate action. Christoph Ploß, CDU leader in the state of Hamburg and the party’s youngest regional party association leader at 35-years old, wants to make climate protection a "trademark" of the CDU. Tilman Kuban, head of the party's youth group Junge Union, said Germany has to "show other countries that you can earn money with climate protection."

Debate on scrapping renewables levy gathers pace in Merkel's party

Plans to scrap Germany's renewables levy are maturing within Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU), with a new proposal suggesting investors should finance the country's renewables roll-out instead of consumers. The head of the party's state association in Hamburg , Christoph Ploß, and former solar battery start-up sonnen CEO, Philipp Schröder, argue the roll-out should be considered an infrastructure investment that can be financed with earmarked green bonds.

 

11 February

Germany needs higher CO2 price and new climate adaptation strategy – CSU leader

Germany needs more consistent and ambitious climate policies, including a higher CO2 price, the leader of the conservative CSU party Markus Söder said. Söder, who is also state premier of Bavaria, said alongside the corona crisis, tackling climate change is a main priority. "We need to talk differently about climate change and act more decisively," he said. The CSU politician, who is a possible candidate to succeed fellow conservative Angela Merkel (CDU) as chancellor, said he was open to a coalition between the CDU/CSU and the Green Party following this year’s federal elections.

 

8 February

Left Party makes climate key area in draft elecion programme

The German Left Party (Die Linke) makes climate protection a key topic of its federal election campaign, presenting a draft election programme titled "For social security, peace and climate justice” The party under its leaders Bernd Riexinger and Katja Kipping is the first to present a programme in the federal election year and has announced the goal of reaching a zero-emissions economy by 2040.

 

German Social Democrats put sustainability at heart of election campaign

The German Social Democrats (SPD) want to put sustainable restructuring of the economy and society at the heart of their federal election campaign, the party announced during a two-day party meeting on 7 and 8 February in Berlin. SPD candidate for chancellor and federal finance minister Olaf Scholz promised greater efforts to tackle climate change as well as comprehensive, nationwide digitalisation. "If we want to have a CO2-neutral economy in 2050, that requires the greatest technological revolution, the greatest period of innovation in our country that has been seen in a long time," Scholz said.

18 January

Armin Laschet has been elected the new leader of the CDU

Armin Laschet has been elected the new leader of Germany's largest party, the Christian Democrats (CDU) and could be elected chancellor candidate by the CDU for the 2021 federal elections. The current premier of Germany's federal state North Rhine-Westphalia is seen as a loyalist to Angela Merkel and stands for continuity with the parting long-term leader's centrist course, which could become difficult to maintain in a party struggling to assert its conservative identity. Even though he has been an ardent supporter of Germany's planned transition to a hydrogen-based economy, Laschet's reputation in climate policy is dominated by his pro-industry positioning in the country's coal exit negotiations and his government's heavy-handed handling of protests against a new lignite mine.

11 January

Greens hope to win chancellorship in upcoming elections

Despite coming second way behind chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative CDU/CSU coalition in current polls, Germany’ Greens have a chance of becoming the strongest party and winning the chancellorship in this year's general election, says Anton Hofreiter, head of the Greens’ parliamentary group. Merkel’ popularity and the coronavirus crisis are helping the CDU/CSU in the polls for now, but Merkel won’t be running in the September elections and this means there will be “an open race to see who has the best answers for the future of our country,” Hofreiter said.

CDU leadership candidates' debate leaves climate activists disappointed

One week ahead of a crucial vote on a new party leader by Germany's governing Christian Democrats (CDU), the last public debate between the three candidates vying for the conservative top seat has left climate activists disappointed. "None of the candidates proved to have a noteworthy concept for mastering the climate crisis," activist and renewables researcher Volker Quaschning said, adding that candidate Norbert Röttgen, head of parliament's foreign affairs committee, has at least signalled his readiness to step up the emissions reduction efforts. Economist Claudia Kemfert described Merz as the "worst choice" from a climate policy perspective.

Left Party leaders bet on fair and climate-friendly recovery in campaign year kick-off

The leaders of the Left Party have called for a socially fair and climate-friendly coronavirus recovery as the centrepiece of the German government’s policy in election year 2021. In a paper released to kick-off the year, the party says 2021 must become “the year of change.”  “In the next 15 years, we must achieve the transformation to a CO2-free, energy- and resource-saving economy and infrastructure in order to reach the 1.5 degrees Celsius target,” says the paper. It proposes a “Left Green New Deal,” including a mobility transition with a stronger focus on public transport and an annual 20-billion-euro fund to help the transition in industry, “especially in the car supply sector.” The Left Party also calls for CO₂-neutral industry production by 2035.

 

8 January

Bavaria's CSU calls for doubling down on climate action despite pandemic

The CSU – Bavarian sister party to chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative CDU – is calling for more ambitious climate action, even in the face of the coronavirus pandemic. In party meeting resolutions, it advocated for a raise of the national CO2 reduction target of 55 percent to 60 percent by 2030, compared to 1990 levels. CSU leader Söder started started to present himself as a progressive climate leader, openly courting the Green Party for a possible coalition in the next government after the parliamentary elections in Sepetember. According to polls in early 2021, most people in Germany consider Söder to be the best fit for following Merkel as chancellor from the conservative camp after she leaves office in autumn.
The much larger CDU will chose on a new leader at a party convention starting on 15 January.

 

14 December

Most Germans say climate policy could be decisive issue in 2021 elections – survey

Climate policy could be a decisive issue for the vast majority of voters in Germany's parliamentary elections in 2021, a representative survey conducted by pollster YouGov for solar power industry lobby group BSW Solar has shown. Nearly three-quarters (73%) of respondents said climate policy could be important (32%) or very important (41%) when deciding who to vote for. The most important climate action measure respondents cited was expanding renewable energy production, BSW Solar said.

 

9 December

All German parties should make climate 'central pillar' of election programmes – govt advisors

German government advisors have launched an urgent call on the country's political parties to make climate action a central topic in their programmes for next year's general elections. The Advisory Council on the Environment (SRU) said the legislative period following the elections in autumn 2021 "offers the last realistic opportunity to set the course for achieving the sustainability goals for 2030 and the climate goals for 2030 and 2050.”

 

2 December

Disgruntled Green Party members in Hesse consider joining new 'Climate list' party

Members of the regional Green Party in central German state Hesse have said they might leave the party and join a new “climate list” due to the regional party leadership’s stance towards the building of a controversial new motorwayproject A49 that cuts through the Dannenröder Forest north of Frankfurt. Many in the party's rank and file are unhappy and disappointed with Green economy and transport minister Tarek Al-Wazir, who insists that his hands are tied regarding the decision whether the A49 motorway should be built.

 

30 November

Bavaria's state premier says Conservative-Green coalition is many Germans' favoured option

Markus Söder, Bavaria's state premier and head of the CSU, the Bavarian sister party of German Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative CDU, has said that climate policy will be the economic growth engine of the next years, Thomas Vitzthum writes in Die Welt. At a digital convention of the CDU/CSU alliance's youth organisation JU, Söder said an economic recovery in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic would have to be next year's political priority, arguing that "many people in the country feel that a coalition between the Conservatives and the Green Party is the right model for Germany”, adding that most would want it to be led by a conservative chancellor.

 

23 November

German Greens vow to speed up low-carbon transition

Germany's Greens have backed a more ambitious climate target in a bid to defuse growing tensions with more radical activists. At a virtual convention designed to showcase the party's ability to govern Europe's largest economy less than a year before general elections, delegates agreed to the target of getting "on the path" to limiting the rise of global temperatures to 1.5 degrees.

 

20 November

German Greens call on climate activists for unity in election goals

Leading members of Germany's Green Party have called on climate activists b to cooperate in the country's general elections next year. They warn that more radical climate platforms competing in elections could harm the fight against climate change, as they could drain votes from the party that stands a good chance to become part of the next German federal government. 

 

31 October

CDU to elect new leader in mid-January

The governing Christian Democratic Party (CDU) has decided to hold a party convention in mid-January next year after it had to cancel a planned event in December due to tightened coronavirus restrictions in Germany, public broadcaster ARD reports. The party convention will be used to elect a new leader for Chancellor Angela Merkel's party. Whoever is elected  could likely also become her successor at the head of Germany's government after Merkel steps down in autumn 2021.

 

28 October

SPD position paper calls for EU carbon tax and tighter climate targets

Germany's smaller government coalition partner, the Social Democratic Party (SPD), has called for the introduction of a European carbon border tax and a tighter EU emissions reduction target, news website Euractiv reports, citing a new party position paper. European emissions should be reduced by at least 55 percent by 2030 and a CO2 limit tax introduced if international climate talks do not produce satisfactory results fast enough, according to the SPD. A carbon border tax is currently being debated in the EU trilogue as part of its budget negotiations. The SPD says "a proactive European sovereign is essential" in order to make progress on global challenges such as climate change, migration and digitalisation and call for transforming the European Investment Bank (EIB) into a "climate bank" to fund climate-friendly projects in the context of the European Green Deal. 

 

26 October

Merkel's CDU cancels party convention, leader vote due to coronavirus resurgence

A rapid resurgence of coronavirus infection numbers across Germany has led Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic Union (CDU) to call off a party convention scheduled for 4 December to elect a new party leader. The event, meant to bring together about 1,000 delegates of Germany's largest party in Stuttgart to make a choice between the three top candidates, Armin Laschet, Friedrich Merz and Norbert Röttgen, will be postponed. The CDU is expected to decide on a new course of action on 14 December, Reuters reports, citing party secretary Paul Ziemiak. The party convention that is supposed to find a successor for current leader Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer and a possible CDU chancellor candidate initially had been scheduled for April 2020 but also had to be called off at the time due to the coronavirus outbreak earlier this year.

 

17 October

Leadership candidates of Germany's CDU all call for rigorous climate action

The three candidates for leadership of Germany's largest party, the conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU) of Chancellor Angela Merkel, have all signalled that they consider climate action and sustainability to be defining political challenges for the country in the next decade. At a debate event organised by the CDU's youth organisation Junge Union, the candidates Armin Laschet, Friedrich Merz and Norbert Röttgen, gave a "pitch" to the party youth to help CDU delegates pick their favourite candidate.

 

16 October

German Greens plan clear focus on e-mobility to lower transport emissions

The German Greens have proposes a future transport policy that puts a clear focus on electric mobility and restricts the use of hydrogen on the road to heavy-duty trucks. A party resolution also called for increasing the share of renewable energies in transport "to 30 percent in 2030 and to 100 percent well before 2050.”

 

5 October

Greens call for halt of new highway construction

The Green Party is calling for a radical rethink of transport policy by putting a moratorium on the construction of new motorways and state roads. "The plans for autobahns and federal highways must be fundamentally reviewed for compliance with climate goals," says Anton Hofreiter, head of the party's parliamentary group.

 

1 October

Activists aim to unite small parties under one climate roof to gain seats in next German parliament

Climate activists want to get small and niche parties to unite as one political party to overcome the five percent threshold to gain seats in parliament after the 2021 national election. “There is no party in the German Bundestag that stands up for socially just climate action and the 1.5 degree Celsius target,” says Bianca Praetorius, co-founder of the initiative United4Bundestag.

 

30 October

Merkel wants to rally EU member states behind 55% climate target

Chancellor Angela Merkel has thrown her weight behind the European Commission’s proposal to increase the bloc’s climate target to a 55 percent greenhouse gas reduction by 2030. Speaking in federal parliament, she said the country's current EU Council presidency would work towards achieving a unanimous decision by all EU member states by the end of the year.

 

28 September

Green party wins several big city mayor posts in Germany’s most populous state

The Green party crowns a recent surge in local elections in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany’s most populous federal state, with wins in mayoral run-offs in several big cities, including Bonn, the seat of the UN’s climate body, the UNFCCC. The results highlighted the party’s strength as Germany is heading into a federal election year.

 

25 September

Fridays for Future movement gears up for German election year with protest

With numerous protests across Germany, the Fridays for Future youth movement has taken aim at pushing climate action to the very top of the political agenda in the run-up to the country's general elections next year. The activists don't want to side with any party and instead plan to put pressure on politicians across the spectrum to act according to the Paris Agreement, a spokesperson told Clean Energy Wire. But some of the movement's prominent members are running for a seat in parliament as members of the Green Party, leading to splits in the movement.

 

17 September

Germany's right-wing AfD calls for end to all climate action efforts

The right-wing nationalist AfD party has called for an end to all major climate action efforts Germany has committed itself to and wants to abandon both the Paris Climate Agreement and the European Green Deal. One year before the general election in autumn 2021, the party that holds 12.6 percent of the seats in the German Bundestag thereby firmly positions itself as the only one in parliament that is openly opposed to emissions reduction efforts.

 

14 September

CDU wins local elections in North Rhine-Westphalia as Greens surge on climate concerns

The conservative CDU has emerged as the strongest party in municipal elections in Germany's most populous federal state, North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW), public broadcaster WDR reports. With 35.2 percent of the votes, the party of Chancellor Angela Merkel and state premier Armin Laschet lost 3.2 percent compared to the previous election and achieved its worst ever result in municipal elections in the state but still secured the first place by a wide margin.

 

11 September

German economy minister calls for 'historic' consensus on climate neutrality

One year before Germany's next general election, economy minister Peter Altmaier calls for a "historic consensus" between all democratic parties, businesses and civil society to ensure that climate action and the decarbonisation of the economy do not become pawns in election campaigns. The conservative politician called rapid and determined measures to curb global warming "the key task of our generation" and warned that especially young people could become alienated from politics if lawmakers failed to act on their concerns about climate change.

Altmaier's ideas were received with surprise and suspicion by energy and climate stakeholder groups in the country.

 

7 September

Germany’s CO2 pricing part of 'irreversible' path – SPD chancellor candidate Scholz

Germany’s achievements in the field of climate and energy policy mustn’t mean that the country becomes complacent now, Olaf Scholz, finance minister and the Social Democrat’s candidate for chancellor in the 2021 elections has said.

 

28 August

Must accelerate climate action over coming years – Merkel

Germany has made decisive steps in regards to the climate challenge in past years, but efforts have to increase, Chancellor Angela Merkel told journalists during her annual press conference in Berlin. “For very real reasons, we will accelerate rather than slow down our efforts here in the coming years, because we can see that when climate change threatens our livelihoods, but even more so the livelihoods in Africa - it has something to do with flight and migration,” the chancellor said.

 

25 August

Splits as Fridays for Future activists run for parliament

Several members of Fridays for Future (FfF) Germany have declared their intention to run for federal parliament, exposing divisions within the non-partisan climate movement, taz reports. Jakob Blasel, one of the organisation’s spokespeople, and Urs Liebau, an activist, both said they would run on a Green Party ticket in federal elections next year.

 

24 August

Conservative climate MPs call for “bold” renewables reform

Parliamentarians from Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative CDU/CSU alliance are calling for a “bold” reform of renewables laws and regulation to ensure the success of the energy transition and climate action. In a paper entitled “Impulses for the EEG reform” (EEG = Renewable Energy Act), the Conservative’s “climate group” says that the continued operation of old solar panels and wind turbines which will stop receiving fixed feed-in tariffs after a 20-year period is a particular challenge.

 

11 August

Chancellor candidate Scholz says rapid transformation towards sustainability is key election topic

The German Social Democrats (SPD) will make the transformation towards a more sustainable economy a key topic of their campaign for the 2021 general elections, the SPD's freshly nominated candidate for chancellor, Olaf Scholz, has said. Halting human-made climate change would be an "indispensable task that has to be resolved at a high pace”, Scholz said The current finance minister and vice chancellor stressed that Germany's strong industrial basis is and remains to be an asset that the country has to protect.

 

10 August

SPD nomination of finance minister Scholz as chancellor candidate kicks off Germany's election year

Germany's Social Democrats (SPD) have nominated current finance minister Olaf Scholz as the party's candidate for chancellor. This marks the first major move from one of the country's larger parties in preparation for the parliamentary election in autumn 2021.

 

 

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