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11 Jun 2019, 13:24
Julian Wettengel

SPD calls on Merkel’s conservatives to get serious on climate

Clean Energy Wire

German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s smaller coalition partner, the Social Democratic Party (SPD), has increased pressure on her conservative CDU/CSU alliance to adopt climate action measures promised in their coalition agreement by the end of 2019. SPD deputy parliamentary group leader Matthias Miersch told journalists in Berlin the conservatives had to decide four key issues for the Social Democrats to remain in the grand coalition after the government’s half-time review planned at the end of the year. The CDU/CSU must decide whether it is going to support sectoral responsibility laid down in the draft climate action law by environment minister Svenja Schulze; whether it agrees to implement the coal exit commission’s recommendations; whether it supports the goal laid down in the coalition treaty to increase the share of renewables in power consumption to 65 percent by 2030; and whether it is “ready to talk about concrete climate measures” in transport and buildings in the climate cabinet this autumn.
“The time of easy-peasy climate action is over,” Miersch said, citing recent statements reportedly made by Merkel. “If we can’t show the population that we have understood the task, then that shows that the grand coalition is not able to act in this field, and for me that would be a massive violation of the coalition treaty.” Miersch did not specify how the SPD would assess whether the conservatives live up to these demands. This decision is up to the party leadership, he said. The cabinet has to adopt climate action legislation by October, in order for parliament being able to make decisions before the parties' meetings towards the end of the year, said Miersch.

Both the SPD and the conservatives have said they want to assess the work of the grand coalition by the end of the year, roughly the half-time of the current legislative period. However, it has not been specified how and when exactly this would be done. In the 2018 coalition treaty, the government had agreed to decide on key climate policy measures by the end of 2019, such as the country’s coal exit and legislation on transport and buildings. Merkel has set up the so-called climate cabinet, a group of ministers with key responsibilities for climate issues, which is to come up with climate action proposals and the necessary legislation by the end of the year. Germany's environment ministry wants to enshrine the country's climate targets in a new comprehensive Climate Action Law. A first draft was sent to the chancellery for early coordination in February 2019 and was met with heavy criticism from several members of Merkel's conservative alliance. They oppose the idea of a major climate law and want only laws specifying climate action measures for individual economic sectors. Merkel's climate cabinet has said it will make key decisions about climate action legislation and measures in September and adopt these by the end of 2019.

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