The great flood in Germany? Oliver Krischer did not use the question a few days ago to point out that he had always known. Instead, the Green politician said: “This catastrophic event was unimaginable for me.” Even for him, who as the vice-parliamentary group in the Bundestag coordinates the issues of the environment, energy, transport and agriculture. But just as other climate politicians talked more about future scenarios on the subject of heavy rain. “It’s a kind of human protective shield that you don’t project it onto your own home.”
Now the tide has come, in Krischer’s homeland, in North Rhine-Westphalia. The 51-year-old does not use this at the SZ Congress either to steer clear of the election campaign, in which the Greens are calling for more climate protection than other parties. He mentions only in passing that he lives “in the region that is just experiencing the catastrophe”. And where he has protested against coal mining for a long time.
It is not Krischer, but Janine Wissler who draws the bow and gets really concrete. “Climate change is no longer a distant scenario,” says the left party leader. “We can already see the consequences immediately. Also floods”. The 40-year-old comes straight to one of her tough demands: ban large SUVs from the city centers. In view of climate change, cars shouldn’t get heavier and heavier and swallow more energy: “SUVs are a symbol of wrong developments”.
You will quickly notice the differences between the left and the green. Like Krischer, Chancellor candidate Annalena Baerbock tries to avoid any impression that she wants to make political capital out of the flood disaster. The Greens also avoid the word ban as much as possible on their way to being part of a federal government for the first time in 16 years after the election.
SUV ban? You don’t get to hear from Krischer. When asked about a ban on domestic flights, he prefers to talk extensively about kerosene taxes and why regional airports deserve fewer subsidies. The Greens do not want to come across as a prohibition party on their way into government. Even before the 2013 election, they were doing well in the polls. However, some felt bullied by her suggestion that canteens should only offer vegetarian food once a week. “Veggie Day” was then one of the reasons why the election results were not so good at the time.
Janine Wissler has fewer inhibitions. Like housing companies, it also wants to expropriate energy companies and bring them into public ownership – for an energy transition and more jobs. Krischer calls the dispossession debate “out of date”. It is an exciting question whether the left is overtaking the Greens when it comes to climate protection with more radical ideas in terms of the effect on the voter. Aren’t the left even campaigning for Germany to become climate neutral earlier than the Greens are demanding? Oliver Krischer does not want to vacate his place as a class leader. “We want climate neutrality as quickly as possible. The problem is not goals, but measures. They have to be implemented more quickly.”
Janine Wissler belongs to the left wing of her party, but can imagine a red-red-green government after the election. At this moment, she is not looking for a dispute, but for solidarity with the rival and possible coalition partner. She agreed with Krischer that it was not about dates, but about measures. And there they agree on many things, from energy consumption to speed limit.
The real opponent is somewhere else – with the Union. Like Wissler, Krischer has only ridicule for CSU boss Markus Söder, who is calling for an earlier coal exit: “That doesn’t affect his state at all,” says the Greens and adds :. “Wherever Bavaria has competencies, it is not a pioneer in any climate issue.”