The Greens defend themselves against criticism and want to make their coalition partners SPD and FDP more responsible for climate protection. It cannot be “that in a progressive coalition only one coalition partner is responsible for progress and the others for preventing progress,” said Federal Economics and Climate Protection Minister Robert Habeck at the start of the three-day Greens parliamentary group retreat in Weimar.

Group leader Britta Haßelmann called combating the climate crisis a task for humanity and warned against populism.

For weeks, the Greens have been the focus of uncomfortable debates, which are essentially sparked by a draft leaked prematurely from Habeck’s house for the gradual replacement of old gas and oil heating systems. According to an agreement of the coalition of SPD, Greens and FDP from the spring of 2022, every newly installed heating system should be operated with 65 percent renewable energy from 2024. This could amount to a de facto ban on new oil and gas heating systems. “It was a good and a correct and a joint decision,” said Habeck.

The FDP, meanwhile, has sharply criticized the plans, most recently supported by the Federal Association of Independent Real Estate and Housing Companies, which warns of a “quick-fix method” and “horrendous costs”. The Bavarian Prime Minister Markus Söder (CSU) told the “Bild” newspaper that the project to replace the heating system was “actually directed against anyone who owns property. A completely aloof plan that should by no means become reality”.

Habeck: Attempts to “make climate protection a culture war”

Whereupon Habeck controlled the collar burst. Sometimes the impression arises that it is not about arguments. One tries “if possible not to discuss, to subject us to prejudices, to divide society again, to turn climate protection into a culture war”. This is “a dangerous slide down”. Group leader Katharina Dröge tried to alleviate the worries and promised: “People with middle and lower incomes in particular are supported in such a way that they can shoulder it, that they can also pay for it in the end.”

Within the cheerless traffic light coalition with the SPD and FDP, the Greens are probably the ones with the greatest aspirations for change, which is not always conducive to their popularity. In surveys, they do not come from the zone between 16 and 19 percent, closely followed and in some surveys even overtaken by the AfD. The party itself sees it this way: The climate crisis is a reality, more efforts and changes in personal life are inevitable – and they themselves are honest enough to say so.

Only on Monday did the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warn that the world’s climate protection goals are in acute danger if the climate-damaging greenhouse gases are not drastically reduced within this decade. The goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels (1850-1900) is virtually impossible, according to the report. The 1.5 degrees could even be exceeded in the first half of the 2030s.

Dröge complained: “Who can ruin good ideas?”

When it comes to climate protection, the discussion in Germany is not about who has the best idea, complained Dröge. “But there’s a competition: who can destroy good ideas? That’s the political debate in this country right now.” No matter what instruments the Greens proposed, they would be criticized for it.

Representatives of the group works council of the energy company Leag also distanced themselves on Monday. At the last minute they canceled their participation in the parliamentary group retreat on Monday. The reason was a draft resolution by the parliamentary group that became known at the weekend, which also envisages an early coal phase-out for East Germany by 2030. Leag mines lignite in Lusatia and operates power plants. Instead, the group was able to win over IGBCE chair Michael Vassiliadis for a digital discussion with MEPs. The invitation to the Leag representatives was an “outstretched hand”, said Habeck. “It’s a pity that it wasn’t taken that way, but that doesn’t change the fact that the hand remains outstretched.”