Nowhere has the fundamental change of the political landscape been more pronounced and less expected than in Germany. For more than 20 years, Europe’s economic powerhouse has been the major bastion of green politics.
In the 1990s, Angela Merkel steered and implemented Europe’s Kyoto policy as Germany’s first environment minister. Now serving as chancellor, she was hailed as Europe’s climate savior after playing host to last year’s G-8 summit in Heiligendamm. Only 18 months later, however, she no longer wears a halo. As a result of a concerted campaign by Germany’s heavy industry, as well as growing opposition from within her Christian Democratic party, Mrs. Merkel has been forced to abandon her green principles and image.
The deepening economic crisis seems to transform the mood of the German public. Next year’s general election looms large, and voters right now are worried about the economy and jobs, and not green issues. In early December, more than 10,000 angry metal workers and trade unionists — most of them from Germany — protested outside the European Parliament in Brussels against the EU’s climate policy, which they fear will increase unemployment.
Of course, Benny’s fine work helped inform my piece in the first place!