In April of this year, the last German nuclear power plant is expected to go offline, conventional oil and gas heating systems could start in 2024, and the end of combustion engines in 2035 is being discussed in the EU. The traffic light government is pushing ahead with the ecological transformation. But are bans really necessary to fight climate change?
The party leader of the Greens, Ricarda Lang, and the deputy leader of the Union faction, Jens Spahn, discussed this on Tuesday evening at "maischberger". In addition, Sandra Maischberger looked at the situation on the front lines in the Ukraine war together with the "Senior International Correspondent" of the US news channel CNN Frederik Pleitgen. The Zeit journalist Anna Mayr, the sports journalist and presenter Marcel Reif and the editor-in-chief of "The Pioneer" Michael Bröcker were also invited.
Topic at the beginning of the program: The traffic light coalition's difficulties in agreeing on a financial budget. Bröcker commented on the back and forth of the traffic light parties: "You can now feel in domestic budgetary issues that small things don't grow together that supposedly belong together". You have to understand that Finance Minister Christian Lindner promised not to take on any new debt.
Journalist Mayr questioned how useful a debt brake would be and spoke out in favor of investments. Sports journalist Reif said he trusts politicians to make responsible financial decisions. But when it comes to financial support for child poverty, he says it's over: "If a country like Germany has to seriously discuss child poverty, then the priorities aren't right." Where and whether the debt brake is "completely irrelevant" to him at this point.
Bröcker, Mayr and Reif agreed that the ecological turnaround must come. Bröcker criticized the distrust of the Greens in companies and the population to make independent decisions: "This is not an incentive-oriented, sensible, clever economic policy, but chaos." Bans would create the opposite incentives. You would see that now: "People are all buying oil and gas heating again."
CDU politician Jens Spahn also thinks little of bans. Like the Greens, the Union also wants to advance the heat and transport transition. Maischberger spoke to Spahn about his statement that the CDU was “the true climate protection party” and teased: “Since when are you that? Since you've been in the opposition?” Spahn then explained his party's ecological achievements. Greens leader Ricarda Lang reminded him that the party also had to take credit for its dependence on Russian gas and the exodus of the solar industry. "You don't become a climate protection party by taking up the cause of this label, but by having a plan on how the whole thing can become climate-neutral in 2045," said Lang.
Lang has meanwhile put the label “new economic party” on the flag of her party. The biggest point of contention this evening is the e-fuels, which may be banned in 2035. Spahn thinks that one should not "ban an entire technology that also has the potential to maybe even achieve the goal." He really wants climate neutrality in all areas and jokes: "By the way, I would also like climate-neutral jets to Sylt." You have to trust in the engineers of this country that they invent climate-neutral combustion engines.
Lang, on the other hand, believes that e-fuels certainly have a future, but that the most efficient method, "electromobility", is being forgotten in the discussions about openness to technology. Spahn, who would rather give all technologies a chance, made a bet: “After 2035 there will still be climate-neutral combustion engines in the world, and there will even be many new ones. They are just no longer produced in Europe.” Germany would need the income from the automotive industry with combustion engines for climate investments.
After Greens leader Lang had explained that the measures against the climate crisis would of course be expensive, but that people would be supported with subsidy programs, he pointedly criticized the chaotic communication and time management of the traffic light government: "At some point this will lead to everyone just feel overwhelmed. So at some point we will experience the situation (...) that the average Otto family might stick to the street because they simply say, 'I can't take it anymore'."
The discussion then got lost in which party was to blame for the late exit from coal, which was interrupted by moderator Maischberger. There followed a somewhat abrupt and awkward change of subject to the Oscars and the discussion about why Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy was not allowed to give a speech.
In view of the frightening images from the Ukrainian city of Bakhmut, Maischberger asked her guests whether the German arms deliveries were too late. Michael Bröcker agreed, expressing fears of "crumbling support" for Ukraine in Germany. Anna Mayr pointed out that German weapons would not only save people: "Our weapons also kill." Reif was thoughtful, he has two sons of military age: "Young people who live here die before they have lived . These are not losses or favors. They are dead."
The highlight of the evening was the interview with CNN correspondent Frederik Pleitgen. He just got back from an 8 week trip to Ukraine, Russia, Moscow and Belarus. He talked about his shocking impressions from Ukraine and reported visibly calm about a rocket hit just 50 meters away from him: "At that moment you just work and afterwards I have to say I've never been that close, really to die like in Ukraine.”
Pleitgen, who has worked as a reporter in many different war zones, describes the war in Ukraine as “a completely different league”: “I have never been in a war (...) that is as dangerous as this War in Ukraine and also where people are slaughtered like that.” The Wagner troops would work their way up the front lines with many mercenaries, few of them would survive. "These are really human sources that are used there," said Pleitgen.
The battles in Bachmut are more than just a symbol. Ukraine would play for time until weapons deliveries from abroad arrive and the soldiers are trained for the new systems: "Once this process is completed, Ukraine will be almost a western army and it will certainly be one of the most powerful armies in the country be all of Europe.”
Maischberger spoke to Pleitgen at the end of the program about the collision between the US drone and a Russian fighter jet over the Black Sea. Can the conflict now escalate due to a supposed breakdown? Pleitgen classified the situation: "It can escalate at any time through an accident. I don't think anyone on either side wants that.” Even if Putin threatened to use nuclear weapons, that would still be a long way off.
Note: In an earlier version, we incorrectly attributed a quote from moderator Sandra Maischberger to Ricarda Lang in the headline. We apologize for any inconvenience.
"Kick-off Politics" is WELT's daily news podcast. The most important topic analyzed by WELT editors and the dates of the day. Subscribe to the podcast on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Amazon Music, among others, or directly via RSS feed.