German elections and climate change: what are the parties’ commitments | German Elections 2021 – All the News, Data & Facts You Need | DW

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In a year of devastating flooding, record heat waves, and the Constitutional Court’s decision to label the government’s climate policy “insufficient”, there is no doubt that climate protection is a vital issue for people. German voters.

But, although almost all parties put climate protection at the center of their election platforms, the bottom line remains: the Paris climate target is unlikely to be truly met with any of the current programs. This is the result of a study by the German Institute for Economic Research (DIW). The researchers conclude: “The differences between the parts are clear. However, none of the programs offers coherent concepts to fully achieve the 2030 targets set in the new climate protection law.

Solar panels on the roofs of every house, this is what most German politicians would like to see

CDU: Solar panels and hydrogen

The center-right Christian Democrats (CDU), who have led Chancellor Angela Merkel’s governments for the past 16 years, along with their sister Bavarian party, the Christian Social Union (CSU), have pledged to achieve the objective of climate neutrality by 2045 and wish to strongly develop renewable energies. This includes simpler programs for rooftop photovoltaics. On the economy side, the CDU and CSU are banking on climate-neutral hydrogen to replace coal in industry. However, the exact way in which this can be achieved is disputed by many economic experts.

For now, the CDU / CSU is also sticking to its decision to phase out coal-fired power generation by 2038, which many environmental experts believe is far too late. Chancellor candidate Armin Laschet is sticking firmly to that date, while Friedrich Merz, the former leader of the CDU parliamentary group, recently said he can imagine an earlier date. CDU / CSU plans fail to meet the international climate target.

SPD: green electricity by 2040, but stick to the exit of coal

The center-left Social Democrats (SPD), who have been the junior partner of the government coalition for eight years, want German electricity to come entirely from renewable energies by 2040. This would involve, among other things, the installation solar panels on all suitable roofs. SPD also supports hydrogen; by 2030, Germany must become the “leading market” in this area. But for hydrogen to be climate neutral, it must be produced from renewable energies.

The SPD wants train travel to become more attractive than flying, as well as to promote electric cars and their infrastructure, but the party has no plans to ban flights. The party supports a speed limit of 130 km / h (80 mph) on German highways. And for now, he is sticking to the exit of coal by 2038, even if his candidate for chancellor, Olaf Scholz, has suggested an earlier date, like 2034, in the televised discussions. But this is not yet confirmed.

The Greens: No more coal by 2030

Climate protection is at the heart of the Greens’ brand, and this is reflected in their agenda. During the election campaign, the party grabbed the headlines with its demand for a future climate protection ministry with veto power over laws that contradict the Paris Agreement. Regarding the 2030 target, the Greens are in favor of a 70% reduction in emissions, which makes them more ambitious than the current government.

And the Greens want to phase out coal by 2030, as well as make short-haul flights redundant with better rail services by 2030. The Greens want to invest 100 billion euros ($ 117 billion) in the rail by 2035. And, of course, they want to develop renewable energies on a massive scale.

FDP supports emissions trading

For the Liberal Democrats (FDP), pro-free market, the free market instrument of emissions trading is at the heart of climate protection policy. In the EU emissions trading, around 11,000 electricity companies, large industrial plants and airlines buy and sell pollution rights. Those who are more environmentally friendly earn money – and those who don’t have to pay. The FDP wishes to extend this device to all sectors. They reject driving bans and speed limits. The government’s new goal of being climate neutral by 2045 is not explicitly mentioned in the program.

Left party: climate neutral from 2035

The left has the most ambitious climate targets on paper of all parties currently in the Bundestag. According to their plans, Germany would be climate neutral by 2035 and emissions are expected to drop 80% by 2030. The Left Party does not believe that emissions trading, which is favored by the FDP , a good way to protect the climate. ; they want clear rules for the economy. The left also wants to nationalize the big energy companies. However, they are the only ones among the main parties to make this request.

Activists with posters stating 'save the climate' and 'stop coal energy'

German activists campaign to end coal plants by 2038

AfD: Climate change is not man-made

For the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) populists, climate protection is becoming an increasingly important issue, as they firmly reject active climate protection. The party does not believe that climate change is caused by humans and their emissions.

Therefore, the AfD has no respect for the fight to reduce emissions. He wants to keep coal-fired electricity and demands that Germany withdraw from the Paris Agreement. And he is against the long-term elimination of gasoline and diesel engines. The closest to the AfD in tackling climate protection might be the party’s wish that Germany be able to adapt to “natural” climate change, mainly through better disaster preparedness.

This article was translated from German.

While you’re here: Every Tuesday, DW’s editors summarize what’s going on in German politics and society, with the aim of understanding this year’s elections and beyond. You can sign up for the weekly Berlin Briefing email newsletter here, to stay abreast of developments as Germany enters the post-Merkel era.

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