17 Feb 2021, 13:26
Charlotte Nijhuis

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

Tagesspiegel Online

Young politicians in chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU) want to improve the party's image as a driver of climate action, Maria Fiedler writes for the Tagesspiegel Online. Christoph Ploß, CDU leader in the state of Hamburg and the party’s youngest regional party association leader at 35-years old, told the outlet he 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." Other young party officials with similar ideas include Ronja Kemmer, the youngest female member of the Conservatives' parliamentary group, and Laura Hopman, the youngest CDU MP in Lower Saxony, according to Tagesspiegel.

Ploß argues that the CDU needs to link climate protection with a positive narrative by framing it as an “export hit”. He also said that Germany should focus on climate-neutral fuels, such as e-fuels. "It is precisely in the field of climate-neutral fuels that Germany can build up new climate-friendly key technologies, create thousands of new jobs and take a leading role worldwide," Ploß argued. Kuban is particularly enthusiastic about the use of hydrogen for climate-friendly mobility. "We put the world's first hydrogen train on the track in Germany," he told Tagesspiegel. "I firmly believe that we can also develop the first CO2-free aircraft if we work together in Europe." 

The CDU is currently planning to put CO2 prices and emissions trading at the centre of its climate and energy policy for the 2021 federal election, thus taking a strongly market-based approach, the Tagesspiegel writes. According to recent polls, the CDU/CSU currently enjoys a comfortable lead with around 35 percent of potential votes, with the Greens trailing behind as the second strongest party at around 19 percent. In January, the CDU elected Armin Laschet as its new party leader. Even though Laschet has been an ardent supporter of Germany's planned transition to low-carbon and hydrogen-based economy, his reputation in climate policy is dominated by his pro-industry positioning in the country's coal exit negotiations and his government's heavy-handed approach to protests against a new lignite mine.

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