The last time the German Greens were in government in 1998 their legacy was mainly the Yugoslavian and Afghan wars. This time it appears it will be solely the Ukraine war…and maybe some solar panels along the autobahn.
Hauke Benner is a former journalist and decade long activist against climate change.
Translated and edited by BRAVE NEW EUROPE
Lese die deutsche Version HIER
On 28 March, after 30 hours of extensive negotiations, the Berlin traffic light government (SPD, Greens, FDP Liberals) announced its results to the press. In essence, the FDP got its way on the most important points. Comprehensive climate protection and the reduction of CO2 emissions have become a distant prospect. The Greens, on the other hand, failed on all major issues.
As previously demanded by the FDP, there will be an accelerated building of new motorways, now garnished with kilometre-long solar cell strips along the edges. At least the Greens can take credit for that. In the building sector, too, a ban on the installation of fossil heating systems (oil or gas) is off the table. Instead, here as in its other policies, the market should regulate CO2 reductions – and that can take time.
“We are jumping over our own shadows,” said Energy Minister Habeck in a talk show after the press conference. What he probably meant was that the Greens have sacrificed climate protection on the altar of remaining in government in order not to break up the traffic light coalition. It is a complete kowtowing by the Greens to the climate crisis deniers of the FDP.
From the point of view of environmental associations, the results are “a horror list”. Instead of finally reducing car traffic significantly, Transport Minister Wissing (FDP) continues to press the CO2 accelerator. New motorways through nature reserves and moors are megaout from the point of view of climate science. Not for the German government. The coalition government has explicitly overturned an essential element of the climate law passed under Chancellor Merkel, namely the continuous reduction of CO2 emissions in the respective individual sectors such as buildings and transport. Minister Wissing in particular is violating this legal requirement. In individual transport, emissions are still increasing year for year. The traffic light government has now decided to offset the CO2 emissions of the various sectors against each other (e.g. the savings in the energy sector against the increase in transport). So business as usual in the transport sector can continue. The car managers and trade unions are rubbing their hands in glee.
In the building sector, the Greens have been thwarted, and an end to the use of fossil fuels is a distant prospect. The stricter installation of heat pumps, as prescribed in Denmark ten years ago, is off the table. This is to be regulated solely by the market price for CO2 emissions and not by bans. This will further advance the social division of society; for the rich can always afford expensive CO2 certificates both for their SUVs and their villas or yachts. Poorer households have to pay for the super-expensive gas or freeze if they cannot afford new heat pumps.
The decisions of the traffic light government mean the end of priority for climate protection for this, in their words, “progressive coalition”, and is a clear breach of the constitution. In a landmark ruling in 2021, the Federal Constitutional Court had called on the German government to implement the fundamental right to a life for future generations as well, and to adopt climate protection laws accordingly that do not only start taking effect after 2030 but now. The coalition compromise, however, disregards precisely these requirements of Germany’s highest court.
Not a tonne of CO2 will be saved with these adopted measures. The government is acting as if it still has all the time in the world. Precisely the opposite – that the window of opportunity for effective action against global warming is only a few years away – was forcefully pointed out last week by the IPCC synthesis report. Every tenth of a degree of global warming now matters. But the elite in the Berlin government don’t give a damn about that, and neither do the rich and super-rich who are protected by them.
It is, to paraphrase Bruno Latour and Nikolaj Schultz (“On the Emergence of the Ecological Class”), a declaration of war against climate activists worldwide and a declaration of war against all living beings on this planet.
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