Briefing Paper

Deficit of ambition: how Germany’s new coalition government falls short on climate & energy

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On 21 March 2018 in an hour-long speech after her re-appointment as chancellor, Mrs Merkel dedicated less than 40 seconds to climate and energy policy.

This is indicative of the level of priority that climate policy is likely to have for her government over the next four years in the absence of greater domestic and international pressure.

The challenge for established political parties posed by recent election successes of the right-wing, populist and climate-denialist Alternative for Germany (AfD) contributes to a shift in political attention to migration, public safety and social policy issues.

The coalition treaty of CDU/CSU and SPD also lacks vision and ambition when it comes to climate policy which will make it difficult to create ownership of the issue in the new government. However, the incoming government committed to deciding on a phase-out plan for coal by the end of 2018. Moreover, Germany will remain a key actor in European and international climate diplomacy. Building awareness of this role within the new cabinet and identifying opportunities for shaping the international climate agenda is a key task for both the international climate community and foreign leaders. This background briefing on the new government’s climate and energy policy aims to support those efforts.