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Review by Hugo Müller-Vogg: Climate ruling is a double embarrassing blow for the traffic light coalition

In boxing, it would be referred to as the third consecutive knockdown. First, the Federal Constitutional Court prevented the traffic light coalition with its majority from rushing the heating law through parliament at lightning speed this summer.

The next, much heavier blow came two weeks ago. There, the Karlsruhe judges made it clear that the tricks with the use of Covid credits for the ecological transformation of the economy were simply unconstitutional.

Court condemns traffic light coalition

SPD, Greens, and FDP have not yet recovered from this blow. No one knows how the budget holes for 2024 can be closed. Thus, the traffic light coalition – legally speaking – was once again knocked down.

The Higher Administrative Court Berlin-Brandenburg has convicted the federal government to launch immediate programs for more climate protection in transport and buildings.

Ironically, the traffic light coalition, which had promised in the coalition agreement to “achieve the climate protection goals of Paris, has top priority for us,” is now getting a slap in the face for inadequate performance.

For Olaf Scholz (SPD), Robert Habeck (Greens), and Christian Lindner (FDP), the Berlin ruling is not as bad as the recent one from Karlsruhe. The government can and will appeal.

The Federal Administrative Court will decide as the next instance. This helps the red-green-yellow government already, because unlike the budget crisis, it is not forced to act quickly.

Another ruling, and then also because of climate protection – doubly embarrassing

Nevertheless, the whole thing is highly embarrassing for the government for another reason. Scholz presented himself as a “climate chancellor” during the election campaign, under whom everything would get better. His deputy Robert Habeck even calls himself “Federal Minister for Economic and Climate Protection”. But the court reproaches them for not taking their own laws seriously enough.

At the core is the Climate Protection Act, which prescribes annual targets for reducing harmful greenhouse gases for each sector. If these targets are missed in individual sectors, the law stipulates that the respective responsible ministry must take immediate action.

Because Minister of Construction Klara Geywitz (SPD) and Minister of Transport Volker Wissing (FDP) could not achieve these goals in their areas in 2022, the traffic light coalition concocted a way out.

This entails that not every sector must achieve its annual targets anymore. Instead, the overall prescribed reduction of greenhouse gases for the country must be achieved. Whether individual sectors achieve their goals or not is then no longer so important.

The court sees it differently. It demands additional measures from the federal government to securely achieve the climate goals for the years 2024 to 2030. It’s as if the teacher sets additional lessons for a poorly performed classwork.

Parties competed on climate in the election campaign

The government parties also stand in a bad light because they have agreed on the desired changes in the law but have not yet implemented them. Because the Bundestag has not yet decided what the coalition has negotiated to make Geywitz and Wissing’s lives easier.

How much SPD and Greens had argued in the 2021 election campaign about who could save the climate faster. “There is no way around the climate target” plastered the Greens.

In large-scale posters, the SPD presented Scholz as the “Chancellor for Climate Protection”. How embarrassing it is now, when a court wants to force these climate protectors to do more.

Shortly before the two-year anniversary of the traffic light coalition – the chancellor election was on December 8, 2021 – the coalition is once again in crisis. The opposition is trying to make life difficult for them; the courts are actually doing it.

Perhaps Scholz, Habeck, and the other government members will find solace in the wisdom of former striker Jürgen Wegmann (Dortmund, Schalke, Bayern): “First, we had no luck, then came bad luck.”

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