11 Jun 2019, 13:29
Julian Wettengel

Wide gap between environmental rhetoric and climate action in Germany - opinion

Social Europe

There is a wide gap between environmental rhetoric and climate action in Germany, as displayed by the “inadequate compromise” found by the coal exit commission, which “does not amount to a coherent response to the climate emergency,” writes Adam Tooze, director of the European Institute at Columbia University, in an article for Social Europe. The recommendations are “a devastating display of parochialism and a denial, for the sake of political convenience, of the clear implications of climate science. […] Incrementalism and narrow political pragmatism are easily confused with ‘realism’.” Tooze compares the situation with the management of the eurozone crisis: “There are situations where what seems pragmatic falls woefully short of what is necessary. This was the case during the eurozone crisis. It is even more so in the face of the climate emergency, where the costs rise exponentially with every year of delay.” Tooze calls the “political realism” exhibited by the coal commission “in fact completely unrealistic. One can only hope that on climate – if not to date the eurozone – shifts within European and German politics are enough to break through Berlin’s highly developed capacity for denial.”

Germany’s coal exit commission has agreed to phase out coal-fired power plants by 2038, but Merkel’s government coalition must still decide on binding legislation that will turn the exit into reality. Scientists, economists and NGOs have criticised the coal commission’s recommendations for their lack of ambition and said they are not in line with the Paris Climate Agreement goals.

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