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ENVIRONMENT

Germany chooses Greenpeace chief as first climate envoy

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock on Wednesday named Greenpeace chief Jennifer Morgan as her special climate envoy, as part of a pledge to put the battle against global warming "at the top" of the diplomatic agenda.

Germany chooses Greenpeace chief as first climate envoy
Jennifer Morgan, Executive Director of Greenpeace International, and Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock during a press conference on Wednesday. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/AFP POOL | John Macdougall

US-born Morgan, 55, co-leader of Greenpeace International since 2016, will be the first person to hold the newly created role in Europe’s top economy.

The eye-catching appointment comes as Germany’s two-month-old coalition government, led by Social Democrat Chancellor Olaf Scholz, aims to pursue more global cooperation against climate change.

Baerbock, from the ecologist Green party, introduced Morgan as “the face of Germany’s international climate policy”.

“Even in our foreign policy we are putting the climate crisis where it belongs: at the top of the agenda,” Baerbock told reporters after Scholz’s cabinet approved Morgan’s appointment.

READ ALSO: Germany to speed up green energy projects in ‘gigantic’ effort

The appointment caused a stir in Germany, with supporters hailing it as a coup for Baerbock while critics accused the minister of blurring the line
between lobbying and governing.

Morgan’s US nationality also drew scrutiny, which Baerbock countered by saying Morgan was in the process of applying for German citizenship and that it suited the foreign ministry to have international staff in a “globalised world”.

The new role will see Morgan work as a special representative for international climate policy initially and as state secretary in the foreign ministry once she has acquired German citizenship.

Morgan said “time is running out” to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, requiring “international cooperation like we have never seen before”.

After 30 years of environmental activism, Morgan said she felt she “can now make the biggest difference” in Germany’s foreign ministry.

“The effects of the climate crisis can already be felt worldwide. People and nature are suffering,” she said alongside Baerbock in Berlin.

Scholz has pledged to use Germany’s G7 presidency this year to create a “climate club” of leading economies, with the goal of agreeing common climate
protection standards and avoid competitive disadvantages as countries transform their economies to reach carbon neutrality.

Karsten Smid, a climate and energy campaigner for Greenpeace in Germany, congratulated Morgan on Twitter. “We will miss you,” he said.

Thomas Silberhorn, a lawmaker from the opposition CSU conservative party, condemned the appointment.

“The government apparently has a problem differentiating between government, activists and lobbyists,” he told German media.

By Michelle FITZPATRICK

Member comments

  1. How to use a public office to push an agenda that no one voted for. Greenpeace is a militant organization, flouts the rule of law, and the Green Party chooses the head of this organization from another country to be the voice of Germans on sustainability issues? Can no one see how wrong this is?

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POLITICS

Germany plans return to debt-limit rules in 2023

Germany will reinstate its so-called debt brake in 2023 after suspending it for three years to cope with the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, sources in the finance ministry said Wednesday.

Germany plans return to debt-limit rules in 2023

The government will borrow 17.2 billion euros ($18.1 million) next year, adhering to the rule enshrined in the constitution that normally limits

Germany’s public deficit to 0.35 percent of overall annual economic output, despite new spending as a result of Russia’s war in Ukraine, the sources said.

The new borrowing set out in a draft budget to be presented to the cabinet on Friday is almost 10 billion euros higher than a previous figure for 2023 announced in April.

However, “despite a considerable increase in costs, the debt brake will be respected,” one of the sources said.

Although Germany is traditionally a frugal nation, the government broke its own debt rules at the start of the coronavirus pandemic and unleashed vast financial aid to steer the economy through the crisis.

READ ALSO: Debt-averse Germany to take on new borrowings to soften pandemic blow

The government has this year unveiled a multi-billion-euro support package to help companies in Europe’s biggest economy weather the fallout from the Ukraine war and sanctions against Russia.

Berlin has also spent billions to diversify its energy supply to reduce its dependence on Russia, as well as investing heavily in plans to tackle climate change and push digital technology.

But despite the additional spending, Finance Minister Christian Lindner has maintained the aim to reinstate the debt brake in 2023.

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