Germany’s Greens propose new climate protection ministry with veto power

Germany's Green party said Tuesday that it would seek to introduce a new climate protection ministry with the power to veto government policies if it becomes part of the next coalition following September's general elections.

Germany's Greens propose new climate protection ministry with veto power
Green leader Annalena Baerbock on Tuesday. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Kay Nietfeld

The proposed new ministry would be able to veto proposals of any nature from other ministries which were “incompatible” with the aims of the Paris climate accord of keeping global warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius, said Annalena Baerbock, the party’s candidate running for Angela Merkel’s post.

“This is about finally taking on the huge, century-defining task of becoming climate neutral,” said Baerbock as she presented the Greens’ climate protection programme at an event in a nature reserve in Biesenthal, just outside Berlin.

“The climate crisis is not an abstract idea, it is happening right here among us,” she added, pointing to recent deadly floods which claimed nearly 200 lives in western Germany.

READ ALSO: More trains and energy grants: What a Green win could mean for Germany

If they were voted into government, the ecologists said they would set up a climate task force to speed up policy-making in the first 100 days of the new coalition, to be overseen by the new climate ministry.

The ministry would also be able to shoot down suggestions from other ministries if they were “incompatible with Paris”, said Baerbock.

“The pressure to act is high,” said the environmental party’s co-leader Robert Habeck, adding that climate protection affected all other political issues.

The party also announced its intention to set up a “climate budget” of around 15 billion euros, introduce higher carbon prices and bring forward Germany’s planned coal exit by eight years to 2030.

German Greens’ co-leaders Robert Habeck and Annalene Baerbock. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Kay Nietfeld

The Greens are currently polling second behind Merkel’s conservative CDU/CSU alliance as Baerbock and CDU leader Armin Laschet vie to succeed the departing veteran chancellor in September.

Having briefly led the polls in the spring, the Greens have long since slipped behind the conservatives after a series of blunders derailed Baerbock’s campaign.

READ ALSO: German Greens’ candidate defends herself against plagiarism claim

A recent survey by pollsters Forsa put them five points behind the CDU/CSU on 21 percent, while Yougov have them 12 points behind on 16 percent.

The plans announced on Tuesday were slammed as a “bureaucratic muddle of bans” by the leader of the liberal FDP party Christian Lindner.

Yet they met with a less critical response from Laschet and social-democrat candidate and Finance Minister Olaf Scholz, who were both visiting flood-hit area on Tuesday.

“We must do everything we can to stop man-made climate change,” said Scholz.

Germany’s current right-left coalition passed a new climate change law in 2019, which included a new target to become climate neutral by the middle of the century.

Yet they were forced to improve on that target in May after Germany’s highest court ruled they were not ambitious enough to protect the rights of younger generations.

SEE ALSO: German prosecutors consider manslaughter probe into deadly floods

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Germany players cover mouths in protest for World Cup photo

Germany's players covered their mouths for the team photo before their World Cup opener against Japan on Wednesday in protest at FIFA's refusal to allow rainbow-themed armbands.

Germany players cover mouths in protest for World Cup photo

Captains of seven European teams had planned to wear the anti-discrimination armbands during the tournament in Qatar as part of a campaign for diversity.

But they backed down over the threat of disciplinary action from football’s governing body, including yellow cards.

The rainbow armbands had been viewed as a symbolic protest against laws in Qatar, where homosexuality is illegal.

Germany’s football federation tweeted in English moments after the photo protest: “It wasn’t about making a political statement — human rights are non-negotiable.

“Denying us the armband is the same as denying us a voice. We stand by our position.”

German Interior Minister Nancy Faeser did wear the “OneLove” armband as she watched the game sitting next to FIFA president Gianni Infantino at the Khalifa International Stadium in Doha.

She said FIFA’s ban was a “huge mistake”.

READ ALSO: German sports minister to attend World Cup amid human rights row

Not only players, but fans should also be allowed to show pro-LGBTQ symbols “openly”, Faeser told reporters in Qatar.

Supporters should “make a decision for themselves” about whether they wanted to wear the symbols, Faeser added.

The German government spokesman, Steffen Hebestreit, said earlier in the day in Berlin that FIFA’s decision to bar captains from wearing the “OneLove” armbands was “very unfortunate”.

“The rights of LGBTQ people are non-negotiable,” Hebestreit said at a regular press conference.

Security staff at the World Cup have ordered spectators to remove items of clothing featuring rainbow logos.

Underlining tensions at the tournament over the issue, Belgium’s Jan Vertonghen said on Tuesday that he was “afraid” to talk about human rights. Vertonghen, speaking on the eve of Belgium’s opening game against Canada later Wednesday, said he did not feel comfortable.

“I’m afraid if I say something about this I might not be able to play tomorrow,” the defender said.

“It’s an experience I’ve never felt in football before. I feel controlled. I’m afraid to even say something about this.

“We’re just saying normal things about racism and discrimination and if you can’t even say things about it, that says it all.

“I want to appear on the pitch tomorrow, so I’ll leave it at that.”