Sustainability Blog

New German Government is a Courageous Climate Check Coalition

New German Government is a Courageous Climate Check Coalition

By Apurva Gosalia - Nov 26, 2021

Instead of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, this post is about the 17 Sustainable Government Departments of the new German tripartite coalition and its commitment to climate change.

Two months after the general election in Germany, the three parties of the prospective government agreed this week on a coalition agreement that will guide their policies for the next four years.

Called “Daring more progress – Alliance for Freedom, Justice and Sustainability,” the agreement between the Social Democrats, Green Party and Free Democrats has a strong focus on energy and climate change.

The agreement details steps such phasing out coal “ideally” by 2030 and a substantial expansion of renewable energies and associated infrastructure. While today slightly more than 40% of the country’s electricity consumption is met by renewables, the parties plan to lift Germany’s renewables target for 2030 from 65% to 80% of electricity demand with a massive expansion of wind and solar.

> Read more about European sustainability policy here

When it comes to climate change, the three parties’ aim is to put Germany onto the path to reducing the global average temperature by 1.5 degrees Celsius.

The agreement states: “We will make climate protection a cross-cutting task by ensuring that the department in charge in each case reviews its draft legislation for its climate impact and compatibility with national climate protection targets and provides appropriate justification”.

Compliance with the national climate targets will be monitored annually on the basis of a “cross-sectoral and multi-year overall assessment analogous to the Paris Climate Agreement.” This means that each of the 17 ministries of the federal government must check any proposed law’s climate impact and compatibility with the national climate targets. For this reason, one could name the new government the “courageous climate check coalition” and its 17 ministries the “Sustainable Government Departments” (or SGDs).

Although pending formal party approval next week and the election of chancellor Olaf Scholz on December 6, the new government also acknowledges the need for technologically removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. It also wants to develop a long-term strategy for dealing with the roughly 5 percent of unavoidable residual emissions.

On the way to climate neutrality, the coalition wants all of Germany’s economic sectors to contribute to achieving the national climate target. This includes using modern technologies to enhance various industries’  competitiveness and climate neutrality. Certain measures to help those industries achieve these targets include:

  • Developing an industrial strategy that prevents carbon leakage.
  • Boosting sales of climate-friendly products through minimum quotas in public procurement.
  • Promoting products that are durable, reusable, recyclable and, if possible, repairable.

As it pertains to the chemicals industry, and by extension to lubricants, the intention is to strengthen competitiveness, innovation, sustainability and climate protection, safeguard jobs and reduce the risks associated with the use of hazardous substances (e.g. perfluorinated and polyfluorinated chemicals). There is also a goal to raise Germany’s profile as a production location.

In terms of foreign policy and climate, the coalition agreement aims to strengthen cooperation within the framework of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement. Goals include climate neutrality, the production of hydrogen, and an extensive expansion of renewable energy.

The new coalition plans to support the European Commission’s proposals in the negotiations on the Fit for 55 program. To do this, it wants to make the instruments in individual sectors as technology-neutral as possible. Regarding the European Union’s chemicals strategy, the intention is to further develop the Regulation on the Registration, Evaluation, Authorization and Restriction of Chemicals (known as Reach) and the assessment of substances and groups of substances for their risks.

Among other things, the plan is to use Germany’s G7 presidency in 2022 to launch an initiative to establish climate partnerships and an international climate protection club, open to all countries with a uniform minimum CO2 price and a joint CO2 limit offset.

The coalition agreement says: “We are striving for a global emissions trading system that will lead to a uniform CO2 price in the medium term and we are relying on a rising CO2 price as an important instrument, combined with strong social compensation, and will support people with lower incomes in particular. What’s good for the climate will become cheaper – what’s bad, more expensive.”

Let’s wait and see whether all of this will materialize. Only then the new government will deserve to be called “Courageous Climate Coalition!”


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