Donald Trump

Right-Wing Faction of German Conservatives Criticizes Merkel’s Climate Policy, Draws Closer To Trump


CDU Headquarters in Berlin (via Wikimedia Commons)

On June 1st President Donald Trump announced that the United States would withdraw from the landmark Paris climate agreement. The decision was widely criticized not only in the United States itself but also abroad, where world leaders from France to China signalled that they would abide by the accord and fill the vacuum created by Washington’s increasingly isolationist policies.

China‘s state news agency Xinhua called Trump’s decision a “global setback”.  French President Emmanuel Macron issued a message to the American people in English, in which he reiterated that his government is fully committed to protecting the planet. German Chancellor Angela Merkel stated that “the decision of the US President to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement is extremely regrettable.”

But the appeal of Trump’s rhetoric in Europe should not be underestimated. Only two days after the news of the US’ withdrawal from the Paris agreement broke, an ultra-conservative faction of Merkel’s own party, the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), published a paper criticizing the Chancellor’s climate policy.

German media reported on Saturday that the “Berlin circle”, a right-wing group of the CDU, issued a list of 17 demands, slamming the government’s environmental protection policies and urging a radical re-evaluation of official responses to climate change.

“Climate research should not become a question of belief or an arena for ideological debates,” the paper states. “The greenhouse effect and the natural carbon cycle are essential elements of life. Climate has always changed. Therefore, there is no such thing as climate change denial.”

In the document the “Berlin circle” calls for an end to “moral blackmail” on the part of climate scientists. It also rejects “German exceptionalism” in defining climate policy goals.

The paper criticizes the “media narrative” that emphasizes only the negative consequences of climate change. The “chances arising from polar ice melting (ice-free arctic routes, new fishing opportunities, exploitation of natural resources) might even outweigh possible negative ecological effects,” the CDU lawmakers state.

They further assert that the goal of reducing the greenhouse effect set by the German government is “unrealistic”.  The group condemns state intervention and political attempts to mitigate the consequences of climate change, instead calling for policies of “adaptation” to environmental change.

The recent electoral backlashes of right-wing parties in Europe have led to the belief that “Trumpism” is an anomaly. But the existence of groups that have long been marginalized by mainstream discourse should not be underestimated. The rise of right-wing parties with increasingly radical agendas – and often backed by Russian President Vladimir Putin – is a political phenomenon that progressive forces throughout the Western world cannot afford to ignore.


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