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Climate change to loom large in talks to form new German government

Climate change to loom large in talks to form new German government

Strong results for green and liberal parties mean climate and energy policies are expected to feature heavily in upcoming coalition talks.

Climate and energy policies are expected to loom large in talks to determine which parties will form Germany's next government, following a much-anticipated federal election on 26 September.

The centre-left Social Democrats, junior partner in the current grand coalition government, narrowly won the elections ahead of outgoing Chancellor Angela Merkel’s centre-right Christian Democrats.

The election was the first in which Merkel did not stand since she became Chancellor in 2005.

The leaders of the Social Democrats and Christian Democrats have each claimed that they have a mandate to form a government. Those two parties are unlikely to continue their coalition, and a new government, whoever leads it, could include the Green Party and the liberal Free Democrats, who won 14.8% and 11.5 % of votes, respectively, according to preliminary results. It could take weeks or months of discussions before a coalition is formed.

Climate change was a key issue for voters in this election, and the new government will need to lay out a plan for how it wants to achieve the country’s climate goals — a 65% reduction in greenhouse-gas emissions relative to 1990 levels by 2030, and becoming carbon neutral by 2045. “Greens and liberals have different preferences as to the mix of market-based instruments, subsidies and regulatory law to achieve carbon neutrality over the next few decades,” says Ottmar Edenhofer, director of the Potsdam Institute of Climate Impact Research.

The Greens want to revise Germany’s renewable energy law to increase the use of low-carbon energies in the transport and industry sectors, and for heating. They also want to bring forward a phase-out of coal by eight years, to 2030.
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