Germany’s energy transition agenda will be dominated by a ‘climate election’ in 2021, according to a preview
The year 2021 is shaping up to be a turbulent and crucial one for climate and energy issues in Germany: Following months of election campaigns dominated by the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic and its economic ramifications, the country will elect a new government – and effectively Chancellor Angela Merkel’s successor – that will be responsible for setting the course for reaching climate neutrality by mid-century. Is it possible that the new EU climate objective will have an impact on national policy, that coal will be phased out sooner rather than later, that Germany will start making good on its pledge to become a hydrogen world champion, and that the transition to electric mobility will genuinely take off? Cleaning up the energy transition’s top issues in 2021 were discussed in depth with researchers, advisors, activists, business representatives, and economists, who shared their predictions for the transition’s top issues in national and international politics, industry, finance, mobility, and a variety of other areas.
Germany is preparing for the “mega election year” of 2021
Prior to the outbreak of the COVID-19 virus, the year 2021 in German politics was expected to be dominated by one big event: elections. The general elections in Germany will be held in autumn, and in the run-up to the elections, six out of the sixteen German states will go to the polls during the year (Baden-Württemberg, Rhineland-Palatinate, Thuringia, Sachsen-Anhalt, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, and Berlin), providing ample opportunity to test election campaign topics and see how the different parties fare against the backdrop of a coronavirus-induced economic and social crisis, as
“The elections will have a significant impact on the climate discussion in Germany next year.” The Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change (MCC) secretary general Brigitte Knopf said in an interview with Clean Energy Wire (CLEW) that “not many choices can be expected, but intriguing political discussions will emerge.”
The conservative Christian Democrats (CDU), who now have the majority of seats in parliament, will pick a new leader in mid-January. The three current presidential hopefuls have all stated that climate policy would be a significant topic in their campaigns. Choosing who the CDU – and its Bavararian sister party, the CSU – will choose to run against Merkel in the election to follow her as chancellor will most likely take place in the spring of 2021. Despite the fact that the contenders for Merkel’s CDU leadership are still struggling to get support from a broader public, CSU leader and former Bavarian state premier Markus Söder has emerged as a front-runner among many voters. Furthermore, he hinted that a partnership with the Green Party might be in the cards under his leadership in the near future.
The Social Democratic Party (SPD), the conservatives’ coalition partner in the present administration, has already agreed to nominate Olaf Scholz, the finance minister and vice chancellor, to run for the chancellorship. Despite the fact that the party presided over the introduction of Germany’s landmark Renewable Energy Act (EEG) and is credited with making significant contributions to the country’s ambitious Climate Action Programme 2030, the party has been unable to capitalize on the recent surge in public interest in climate policy.