German Green Party Surge Jolts Merkel Over Climate Dithering

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(Bloomberg) -- Germany’s Green Party overtook Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrat bloc for the first time in a national opinion poll, sending a clear message to the country’s leadership to stop prevaricating over climate policy.

The Greens, in opposition since 2005, jumped nine points in a Forsa GmbH poll held after last month’s European Parliament election to gain 27%, one notch ahead of Merkel’s CDU-CSU alliance.

Efforts by Merkel’s coalition of “Volksparteien” -- or people’s parties -- to appeal to voters across the German political spectrum is failing, said Forsa’s Managing Director Manfred Guellner. The public wants a “green original” to combat climate change after tiring of coalition squabbles over how to achieve it, he said.

German Green Party Surge Jolts Merkel Over Climate Dithering

The survey sends a jolt to Merkel’s CDU-CSU and Social Democrat parties, which have ruled alternatively or in coalition since 1949. They face a raft of state election challenges before the next national election in 2021, including three in eastern Germany this fall.

For four out five Germans, Merkel’s administration is moving too slowly to curb carbon emissions, according to a survey published on May 28 by the Environment Ministry. About two-thirds of the poll of 4,000 set a “very high priority” for cutting greenhouse-gas output.

German Green Party Surge Jolts Merkel Over Climate Dithering

As her coalition wobbles under mounting setbacks, Merkel must seek to tame the forces hampering policies to slash carbon emissions in order to meet her pledges to draft a comprehensive climate bill this year.

German Green Party Surge Jolts Merkel Over Climate Dithering

While polls show support for reducing emissions, voters are also leery of potential increases in tax on gasoline and diesel or steps that might raise power prices. The climate change-denial party Alternative for Germany, or AfD, is making significant inroads in Eastern German states on a platform to halt coal plant closures.

The ruling coalition has no choice but to press ahead with its climate agenda, said Norbert Roettgen, a Christian Democrat lawmaker and former federal environment minister, on Germany’s ARD television on Sunday.

The coalition will speed up its efforts to draft a bill before parliament’s summer recess that sets out steps to help Germany fulfill its Paris Climate Accord obligations, said Roettgen.

To fulfill the treaty’s pledges, Germany is obliged to cut carbon dioxide emissions 55% by 2030 from 1990 levels. It’s behind schedule, with a reduction of just 32% expected by next year.

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

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