All eyes on Berlin

Climate ambition and delivery in post-election Germany

Berlin Bundestag Image via Flickr: mathayjl
Berlin Bundestag. Image via Flickr: mathayjl

With less than two weeks to go before the 2021 German federal elections, political attention from all around the world is turning to Berlin.  

After another summer of record heat, devastating floods and fires in different parts of the world, expectations of post-election Germany reclaiming its role as international climate frontrunner have been raised.  

Where do German politics actually stand when it comes to navigating climate and energy policies towards a net zero future? What are the chances post-election Germany will become a stronger advocate for more ambition in climate policy and the energy transition, both on the national and European level as well as globally?   

This briefing scrutinises political parties’ election manifestos and evaluates their performance regarding climate and energy policy against three benchmarks: 

  1. Decarbonising electricity generation – 2030 coal phase out and beyond
  2. Decarbonising heating in homes by phasing out fossil fuel boilers 
  3. Germany’s role in the world – A coherent approach to climate diplomacy 

The analysis also provides an overview of what to expect from the different coalition options. It reveals potential for consensus as well as conflict lines in climate and energy policy between the different parties and formulates recommendations for ambitious and coherent climate and energy policy both on the national level as well as globally.  

  • In order to match the ambition of its national 2030 climate target and achieving climate neutrality by 2045, the in-coming German government will have to tackle the next frontier of energy and climate policies. Rather than summarizing generic priorities, a coalition agreement needs to focus on the actual and timely delivery of key policy milestones.  
  • Climate is still a niche issue in Germany’s foreign policy machinery, and a coherent approach to climate diplomacy has yet to be developed. The in-coming government must fundamentally reform the role of climate and energy in German foreign policy and adapt foreign policy structures to the challenges of the 21st century.
  • Any coalition constellation will be able to build on the concept of making climate neutrality a success story for Germany’s industry. Seizing these industrial opportunities will require policy makers to lay out a clear perspective for low-carbon technologies, e.g., by phasing out fossil fuel-based heating systems.  
  • By securing an ambitious and coherent outcome of the Fit for 55 negotiations on EU level, the in-coming government would be able to reclaim Germany’s climate frontrunner role and give a fresh impetus to the next phase of the EU Green Deal. 
  • The German G7 presidency 2022 offers a unique opportunity to set an ambitious climate agenda and must become a driver for climate-friendly structural reform. 

Read the briefing in full here.


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