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 to me.” Even for him who, as a vice-parliamentary group in the Bundestag, coordinates questions of the environment, energy, transport and agriculture. But just like other climate politicians have talked more about future scenarios about heavy rains. “It’s kind of a human shield that you don’t project over your own home.”
Now the tide has come, in Krischer’s homeland in North Rhine-Westphalia. The 51-year-old does not take advantage of the SZ Congress to bow out to the election campaign, in which the Greens are calling for more climate protection than the other parties. He only mentions in passing that he lives “in the region which has just experienced the disaster”. And where he has long protested against coal mining.
It’s not Krischer, but Janine Wissler who draws the bow and gets really concrete. “Climate change is no longer a distant scenario,” said the leader of the left-wing party. “We can already see the consequences immediately. Floods too.” The 40-year-old immediately comes to one of her strong demands: to ban large SUVs from city centers. In view of climate change, cars should not become heavier and heavier and swallow more energy: “SUVs are the symbol of bad developments”.
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Janine Wissler, leader of the left, is not afraid of specific demands such as the expropriation of energy companies.
(Photo: Friedrich Bungert)
They quickly notice the differences between left and green. Like Krischer, chancellor candidate Annalena Baerbock tries to avoid any impression that she wants to gain political capital from the flood disaster. The Greens are also avoiding the word ban as much as possible on their way to become part of a federal government for the first time in 16 years after the election.
Ban on SUVs? You don’t hear Krischer. Asked about the ban on domestic flights, he prefers to talk at length about taxes on kerosene and why regional airports deserve less subsidies. The Greens do not want to sound like a ban party on their way to government. Even before the 2013 election, they were well placed in the polls. However, some felt intimidated by his suggestion that canteens should only offer vegetarian food once a week. “Veggie Day” was one of the reasons the election results weren’t so good back then.
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 “obsolete”. It is a fascinating question whether the left overtakes the Greens in climate protection with more radical ideas in terms of the effect on the voter. Isn’t the left even campaigning for Germany to become climate neutral sooner than the Greens demand? Oliver Krischer does not want to leave his place as class leader. “We want climate neutrality as quickly as possible. The problem is not the goals, but the measures. They need to be implemented faster.”
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Oliver Krischer, vice-president of the Greens, does not want his party to be offensive with bans.
Janine Wissler is on the left wing of her party, but can imagine a red-red-green government after the election. At the 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 measurements. And there they agree on a lot of things, from power consumption to speed limits.
The real adversary is elsewhere – with the Union. Like Wissler, Krischer has only to ridicule CSU boss Markus Söder, who calls for an exit from coal earlier: “It does not affect his condition in any way,” said the Greens and added: “Wherever Bavaria has skills, it is not a pioneer in any climate issue.