Chancellor Scholz in the coalition committee: the loser in disguise
The Greens are the losers of the coalition committee. However, there is another one – who is now hiding behind the FDP in terms of climate.
The traffic light’s forge of compromises has worked rather well so far. The SPD got 12 euros minimum wage, the FDP more mini jobs. SPD and Greens received 60 billion money originally planned for the corona crisis for the climate fund, the Liberals no tax increases. That was always less than what is necessary for the socio-ecological restructuring. And the Coalition for Progress was bold self-aggrandizement. But for a government headed by Finance Minister Christian Lindner, it was solid political work. And Olaf Scholz gave the balancing moderator.
That’s over since the 30-hour traffic light marathon. The compromise machine no longer runs smoothly. The SPD and FDP together pushed the Greens against the wall in their core area of climate change. The fact that the Chancellor, who is not inclined to exuberance, celebrated this emergency compromise far from Hanseatic understatement as “very, very, very good”, showed that something is wrong here. What the traffic light decided doesn’t help either the global climate or the domestic climate in the cabinet. The FDP will appear no less nervous after this victory. On the contrary: this humiliation of the Greens smacks of repetition.
Besides the green there is another loser. He’s hard to spot because he’s well camouflaged: the chancellor. Scholz sees himself as a doer. Merkel with a plan, he has it star mentioned years ago. So pragmatic, but with an eye for the big picture. But Scholz has completely lost sight of that. An amputated climate protection law for more climate protection – this equation does not add up to any dialectic, no matter how sophisticated. The SPD’s change in climate policy was apparently just a facade that fell over at the first gentle gust of wind.
The SPD is not a socially homogeneous milieu party of the urban middle class like the Greens. She has to think of low-income earners and diesel drivers in the provinces. It is a people’s party in the twilight and needs to involve more milieus.
Climate policy to the culture war
The prospect of no longer being able to install gas and oil heating systems is causing uncertainty. There is definitely a rational core in SPD politics. When climate policy becomes a culture war between liberal centers and frustrated provinces, everyone loses (except for the AfD). So far, so right. But to be afraid of German yellow vests and pointing with trembling fingers at the failed climate referendum in Berlin, is not yet a policy. Precautionary adjustment to what is to be feared makes nothing better.
What is missing is a clear statement as to who can count on which help with the heaters. Instead, the traffic light flashes confused signals. Instead of curbing fears, the government is creating additional uncertainty. The leadership that Scholz likes to claim for himself is missing. The job of the SPD is to link climate protection with social balance. That could be done with climate money, which Hubertus Heil rightly campaigned for.
Poorer, much less CO2 emit, benefit from it. Rich people with big homes and big cars have to pay. But this money should now apparently be used for the heating conversion. This is not a good idea, because it will remove the social-democratic engraving of climate policy. The fact that the SPD has allied itself with the FDP on climate protection is unpleasant. It is unforgivable that she seems to forget her own ideas.
Technology does not solve all problems
Scholz also fails due to an illusion. He is convinced that the climate-neutral conversion can be managed as a purely technical project and sold as a win-win situation for everyone. It’s not like that. Actually, a lot of people know that more and more people are eating cheaper meat, jetting cheaply around the world and parking city centers with ever larger SUVs is not the future.
And that the transformation will produce many winners and many losers. The gap between this suspicion and Scholz’ promise that everything will stay the way it is only with an electric motor or e-fuels is big. And keeps getting bigger. That’s why Scholz’ “Don’t worry” doesn’t sound reassuring, but rather alarming.
The chancellor now needs a reversed Agenda 2010 moment. At the time, Schröder stormed in the completely wrong direction with Agenda 2010, full of energy. He took the poor by the curb and spared the rich. But Agenda 2010 showed that the immobile German system can be set in motion if you really want it.
Can Scholz do that? Does he understand that climate change is the real turning point? If not, all that remains is empty pragmatism.
The chancellor now needs a reversed Agenda 2010 moment.