Merkel ally warns of collapse of coalition talks, as climate comes up for debate

The parties hoping to form a Jamaica coalition are meeting on Thursday to discuss the crucial issue of climate policy. And the negotiator for Angela Merkel’s CDU is already warning that the talks could collapse.

Merkel ally warns of collapse of coalition talks, as climate comes up for debate
Coal-fired power plants such as this one in Brandenburg put German climate targets at risk. Photo: DPA.

Thursday is set to be the most delicate day yet in the ongoing coalition talks between Merkel’s CDU/CSU, the Free Democrats (FDP) and the Green party. On the agenda are the sensitive topics of climate policy, energy policy and refugees.

Armin Laschet, the lead negotiator for the CDU on energy, told the Rheinische Post on Thursday that “if Germany’s position as an industrial power is threatened then we won’t be able to build a coalition.”

He argued that climate protection is important, but that securing jobs is also a moral imperative.

“If brown coal plants in the Lausitz region close and jobs are taken from thousands of people, then the AfD will win 30 percent next time around,” Laschet said.

The Green party stated in a ten-point plan they published as a condition for joining the government that the 20 most polluting coal power stations would have to close and that Germany should completely ditch coal by 2030.

But brown coal mining takes place predominantly in the east of Germany, where millions of disgruntled voters chose to vote for the right-wing populist Alternative for Germany (AfD) party in the September election.

East German states have some of the highest levels of unemployment in Germany, although that is in comparison to a historic low nationwide. Economic marginalization has been cited as one reason why many voters in the former communist east were prepared to vote for the AfD.

The Green party don’t appear ready to back down, though.

Party chairwoman Simone Peter told the Funke Mediengruppe that “it is about implementing real climate policies again and securing concrete arrangements.”

Peter said that Germany must stick to the pledges it made to reduce carbon emissions by 2020 and that “without doubt closing down coal power plants and investing in the renewable energy infrastructure are necessary parts of this.”

About Laschet warned the Greens that they were isolated on their climate positions.

“The Greens know that they don’t have any allies on their hard demands,” he said, adding that the CDU had no intention of making significant concessions.

“If necessary we’ll let it crash,” he warned.

A recent report by the Federal Ministry of the Environment (BMU) revealed that Germany is likely to miss its official target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent by 2020 in comparison with 1990.

The BMU's report states that emissions will likely fall between 31.7 percent at worst and 32.5 percent at best by 2020.

READ MORE: Germany at huge risk of missing 2020 climate targets, government figures show


Germany approves €9 public transport ticket for summer

It's official - people in Germany will get cheap public transport for three months this summer after the €9 ticket was approved.

Germany approves €9 public transport ticket for summer

As part of a host of energy relief measures to cushion the cost of living crisis, the German government is offering cheap public transport for the months of June, July and August. 

Monthly tickets will be available at a price of €9 (or €27 for all three months) and they will allow people to use all buses, trains and trams in local and regional transport throughout the country.

So even if people buy the ticket in Munich, they will also be able to use local and regional buses, trains and trams elsewhere in Germany, whether it’s Hamburg or Cologne. 

READ ALSO: How to explore Germany by train with the €9 ticket

The ticket will not be valid, however, on long-distance transport such as ICE trains or Flixbus.

The offer was put together by the coalition government – made of the Social Democrats, the Greens and the FDP.

The Bundestag voted for the initiative on Thursday, agreeing to give federal states a subsidy of €2.5 billion to fund the project. 

And on Friday, the Bundesrat – the upper house of parliament that represents the states – gave the green light to the ticket, paving the way for it to begin on June 1st. 

States had wanted an extra €1.5 billion funding boost to deal with lost revenue, however it would have been hugely controversial if they had blocked it.

READ ALSO: German states threaten to block the €9 ticket in the Bundesrat

During a debate on Thursday, federal Transport Minister Volker Wissing (FDP) said the €9 project was “already a success”.

“All of Germany is talking about local public transport,” he said, adding that it is also being viewed with interest abroad. 

READ ALSO: ‘Fantastic’: Your verdict on Germany’s €9 ticket

The Left party (Die Linke) voted in favour of the €9 ticket, but leader Bernd Riexinger said he thought the plan didn’t go far enough. “Three months is simply too little,” he said.

The opposition, however, slammed the move. Christian Democrat Michael Donth called it an “expensive experiment”.

Rail operator Deutsche Bahn will offer the ticket for sale as early as Monday. Local public transport providers across the country are also preparing their ticket machines for the initiative. It will also be available in travel centres.

People with subscriptions to local transport will automatically benefit from the offer. 

In some regions, such as Stuttgart and Freiburg, the ticket is already available for purchase.

READ ALSO: How to get a hold of the €9 ticket in Berlin