Seller Drags Climate Change to the Center of German Campaign as Wages

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BERLIN — By Saturday, the issue of climate change was at the center of Germany’s politics and campaign, as the millennial flooding that ravaged Germany and much of Western Europe this week, with more than 160 dead and rescue efforts intensified. For key elections this fall to replace Chancellor Angela Merkel after 16 years in power.

The waning floodwaters have not only unleashed major damage – homes wiped out, businesses lost, electricity and sewer systems destroyed and hundreds of vehicles destroyed – but also bitter political divisions in climate policy have emerged within a week of the European Union stepping in. The world’s most ambitious proposals reduce carbon emissions over the next decade.

While German authorities said it was too early to give a figure on the damage, the strict scale of this has shifted the discussion from calls not to politicize the disaster to the fact that the policies behind it should now play a central role in deciding who will take over. Leadership after the September 26 elections

Germany’s ARD public television said “Weather Politics” in its editorial on Friday evening’s news.

“For a long time, chatting about the weather was synonymous with insignificance. It’s over now,” he said. “The weather is pretty political; Especially during an election campaign, there is almost no non-political atmosphere anymore.”

Officials said the death toll in Germany had risen to at least 143 on Saturday, while the cross-border toll in Belgium stood at 24.

On Saturday, rescuers were still inspecting the ruins in the area. The German news media were filled with images of houses still submerged in muddy brown water up to the second floor, and bridges reduced to piles of crumbled stones or tangled metal posts.

Tragedy stories also surfaced, perhaps none more poignant than SinzigNeighbors remembered hearing the cries of the disabled who were stranded in the waters gushing from the lower floors of the residence, where a lone night watchman was powerless to rescue them. The event vividly raised tough questions about it. Are the authorities prepared? and why flood warnings are not treated more harshly by local authorities.

More than 90 of those killed in Germany live in towns and villages in the Ahr River valley in the western state of Rhineland-Palatinate, police said. Local governments established a helpline For citizens in the hard-hit region who need financial or psychological support, and issued a call for equipment helping to provide basic infrastructure and even clean drinking water.

Merkel, who turned 67 on Saturday and said she will quit politics after the elections, is expected to visit the county on Sunday to investigate the extent of the devastation. Hours after landing in Berlin from his Washington tour, he spoke via video link with the governor of Rhineland-Palatinate on Friday.

While in the US, the chancellor and President Biden signed an agreement This included a commitment to “take urgent action to address the climate crisis” to include “stronger cooperation on policies and energy technologies needed to accelerate the global net-zero transition.”

of the European Union ambitious planIt’s part of plans announced Wednesday to make the 27-nation bloc carbon neutral by 2050 and will arguably affect no European country more than Germany, the continent’s largest economy and industrial power.

A day later, the widespread flooding, which affected Germany as well as Belgium, Switzerland and the Netherlands, was immediately drawn by environmental activists and a wide range of politicians to draw parallels between the effects of the disaster and climate change.

Armin Laschet, 60, the conservative North Rhine-Westphalia governor who wants to replace Merkel, praised his regional government for passing the law on climate change, but critics point to the state’s open-pit soft coal mines. it still threatens local villages and repeatedly stresses the importance of Germany remaining an industrial powerhouse.

During an interview on WDR local public television on Thursday about whether the flooding could be a catalyst for taking a stand against climate change, in the press, Mr. Laschet lashed out at the moderator.

“I am a governor, not an activist,” he said. “Having a day like this doesn’t mean we’re going to change our policy.”

But In 2011, Ms. Merkel did just that..

After Japan saw its nuclear power plant in Fukushima melt down after a tsunami hit, it backed down from the chancellor’s government’s decision to extend the country’s reliance on nuclear power through 2033. increase the amount of energy supplied from renewable sources.

Floods have a history of influencing political campaigns in Germany. In 2002, photos of Chancellor Gerhard Schröder strolling the streets bathed in the muddy waters of the swollen Elbe in rubber boots while his conservative rival was on vacation are believed to have helped him win the election that year.

Perhaps being cautious of this lesson, 40-year-old Annalena Baerbock, the Green party’s candidate for chancellor and Mr. Laschet’s fiercest rival, interrupted her vacation on Friday to visit troubled areas in Rhineland-Palatinate.

He called for emergency assistance for those affected, but also made a call to better protect “residential areas and infrastructure” from extreme weather events, which he attributes to the changing climate.

“Climate protection is now: In all areas of climate protection, we need to step up our game and take effective climate protection measures with an urgent climate protection program,” Baerbock said.

It is not yet clear whether it will be enough to remove support for Selin Yeşiller. After enjoying the first wave of excitement surrounding the announcement of Ms. Baerbock’s campaign—she is the only woman vying to replace the country’s first female prime minister—support for the Greens has now dropped to 20 percent in the polls.

According to recent polls, this puts the party in second place behind Mr. Laschet’s conservatives, who climbed to nearly 30 percent support.

“There will always be extreme weather events somewhere in the world in the next two months,” said Thorsten Faas, a political scientist at the Free University in Berlin. “The focus was set after the disaster in Rhineland-Palatinate and North Rhine-Westphalia. The topic will determine the election campaign.”

Competing to replace Merkel and return the Social Democratic Party to the post of chancellor, finance minister Olaf Scholz, 63, traveled to flood-stricken areas in Rhineland-Palatinate on Friday, where he promised quick help from and from the government. attributed the disaster to climate change.

“I firmly believe that our mission is to stop human-caused climate change,” Mr Scholz told ZDF state television. When the Social Democrats were in power alongside the Greens from 1998 to 2005, he praised his party’s role in passing some of Germany’s first climate laws, but called for a stronger effort to move towards a carbon-neutral economy.

“What we still need to do now is raise all those who resist to the end their expansion targets for renewable energies in such a way that they also work with a CO2 neutral industry to give up that resistance,” he said.

While the current focus is on the role that environmental issues will play in the election campaign, there are also questions about whether the Chancellor, who was the champion of combating climate change until 1995, continued during his presidency of the United Nations. ‘ The first Climate Conference in Berlin actually pushed its own country hard enough.

Once in power, it proved more difficult to persuade his country’s powerful industrial and auto lobbies, key supporters of his conservative party, to do their part.

The result was a law passed by Germany’s highest court. reigned in April was not aggressive enough in its attempts to reduce emissions. He ordered the government to strengthen the law to ensure that future generations are protected.

“We haven’t implemented many things that might be necessary in Germany in recent years,” Malu Dryer, governor of the state of Rhineland-Palatinate, said in an interview with the Funke media consortium.

He urged German consumers to support climate-neutral products and urge the country to “show more momentum”, adding that climate change is no longer an abstraction. “We are experiencing this firsthand and painfully,” Ms Dryer said.

balm eddy reported from Berlin and Steven Erlanger From Sinzig, Germany.



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