Greens in government for energy breakthrough
Phasing out Germany’s heavily polluting lignite power stations is a key factor in the German general election on 26 September. As a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, the disastrous July floods in western Germany and the advent of a new US president committed to fight climate change, environmental issues will play a dominant role in an unusually volatile and uncertain contest. The Greens, led in the election by Annalena Baerbock, look likely to more than double their parliamentary seats compared with the last election in 2017. The party has a good chance of entering the government. Whether or not this happens, the Greens will ensure that the lignite issue becomes a central test of Germany’s ability to enact real change.
The April 2021 ruling by the German constitutional court declaring that the 2019 climate change act was partly unlawful – forcing the government quickly to enact new legislation to accelerate passage to climate neutrality – has further sharpened the controversy. The outcome will help shape Germany’s international reputation as a serious player in the global struggle to cut carbon dioxide emissions. Important questions of overall European and economic policies are at stake too.