Germany’s Greens propose new climate protection ministry with veto power

Germany's Green party said Tuesday that it would seek to introduce a new climate protection ministry with the power to veto government policies if it becomes part of the next coalition following September's general elections.

Germany's Greens propose new climate protection ministry with veto power
Green leader Annalena Baerbock on Tuesday. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Kay Nietfeld

The proposed new ministry would be able to veto proposals of any nature from other ministries which were “incompatible” with the aims of the Paris climate accord of keeping global warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius, said Annalena Baerbock, the party’s candidate running for Angela Merkel’s post.

“This is about finally taking on the huge, century-defining task of becoming climate neutral,” said Baerbock as she presented the Greens’ climate protection programme at an event in a nature reserve in Biesenthal, just outside Berlin.

“The climate crisis is not an abstract idea, it is happening right here among us,” she added, pointing to recent deadly floods which claimed nearly 200 lives in western Germany.

READ ALSO: More trains and energy grants: What a Green win could mean for Germany

If they were voted into government, the ecologists said they would set up a climate task force to speed up policy-making in the first 100 days of the new coalition, to be overseen by the new climate ministry.

The ministry would also be able to shoot down suggestions from other ministries if they were “incompatible with Paris”, said Baerbock.

“The pressure to act is high,” said the environmental party’s co-leader Robert Habeck, adding that climate protection affected all other political issues.

The party also announced its intention to set up a “climate budget” of around 15 billion euros, introduce higher carbon prices and bring forward Germany’s planned coal exit by eight years to 2030.

German Greens’ co-leaders Robert Habeck and Annalene Baerbock. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Kay Nietfeld

The Greens are currently polling second behind Merkel’s conservative CDU/CSU alliance as Baerbock and CDU leader Armin Laschet vie to succeed the departing veteran chancellor in September.

Having briefly led the polls in the spring, the Greens have long since slipped behind the conservatives after a series of blunders derailed Baerbock’s campaign.

READ ALSO: German Greens’ candidate defends herself against plagiarism claim

A recent survey by pollsters Forsa put them five points behind the CDU/CSU on 21 percent, while Yougov have them 12 points behind on 16 percent.

The plans announced on Tuesday were slammed as a “bureaucratic muddle of bans” by the leader of the liberal FDP party Christian Lindner.

Yet they met with a less critical response from Laschet and social-democrat candidate and Finance Minister Olaf Scholz, who were both visiting flood-hit area on Tuesday.

“We must do everything we can to stop man-made climate change,” said Scholz.

Germany’s current right-left coalition passed a new climate change law in 2019, which included a new target to become climate neutral by the middle of the century.

Yet they were forced to improve on that target in May after Germany’s highest court ruled they were not ambitious enough to protect the rights of younger generations.

SEE ALSO: German prosecutors consider manslaughter probe into deadly floods

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Germany’s AfD bans scandal-hit lead candidate from EU election events

Germany's AfD party on Wednesday banned its leading candidate from appearing at EU election campaign events, after France's main far-right party announced a split with the Germans over a slew of scandals involving the politician.

Germany's AfD bans scandal-hit lead candidate from EU election events

After a crisis meeting with the AfD’s top brass, Maximilian Krah, who is being investigated for suspicious links to Russia and China, said he will also leave the party’s federal steering committee.

“The last thing that we need now is a debate about me. The AfD must keep its unity,” Krah told Welt newspaper.

“For this reason, I will not make any further campaign appearances and will step down as a member of the federal committee.”

The anti-immigration party has been battling to draw a line under a series of controversies over the last weeks that have sent its popularity ratings sliding.

READ ALSO: How spying scandal has rocked troubled German far-right party

Krah is at the centre of a deepening crisis after one of his aides in the European Parliament was arrested on suspicion of spying for China.

Krah and another AfD candidate for the EU elections, Petr Bystron, have also been forced to deny allegations they accepted money to spread pro-Russian positions on a Moscow-financed news website.

But German prosecutors have launched a preliminary investigation against Krah himself over reports of suspicious payments received from China and Russia.

The bad news for the AfD piled up further on Tuesday when France’s National Rally announced it “decided to no longer sit with” AfD deputies in the EU parliament.

The RN said it was going to create some distance from the AfD after Krah, in a weekend interview with Italian newspaper La Repubblica, said that someone who had been a member of the SS paramilitary force in Nazi Germany was “not automatically a criminal”.

The RN and AfD had been the key members of an EU parliament group called Identity and Democracy that also included several other European far-right parties.

READ ALSO: What’s at stake in Germany’s European election vote?