Traffic Light Coalition Deal: An Ideal Combination?


ZEW President Professor Achim Wambach in the #ZEWPodcast

For the first time, Germany will be governed by a ‘traffic light’ coalition, named after the traditional colours of the parties. Expectations are high, especially with regard to tackling the climate crisis, which resembles a Herculean task. In their coalition agreement, the SPD, the Greens and the FDP show the way towards a transformation that should be at the same time sustainable, socially affordable and cost-efficient – at least that’s what the coalition parties say. In the 16th episode of the #ZEWPodcast ‘Wirtschaft · Forschung · Debatten’/‘Economy · Research · Debates’, ZEW President Professor Achim Wambach spoke about the climate plans set out in the new coalition agreement. Wambach explains, among other things, how the traffic light parties want to secure the energy supply, why there is still potential for conflict in the expansion of wind power, and what the coalition plans to do with Deutsche Bahn.

“The energy transition must be socially compatible, it must win over businesses, and of course, it must be in line with the climate goals. In terms of goals, the traffic light is therefore an “ideal combination”, says Achim Wambach in the #ZEWPodcast. In fact, climate protection can be found throughout the entire coalition agreement, the word “climate” alone is mentioned 198 times, there are plans to establish a climate check and the former Ministry for Economic Affairs will be renamed in Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate. “This is a climate coalition agreement,” states ZEW President Achim Wambach. But Wambach also knows that the agreement still has to prove itself in practice. It is right to designate two per cent of the nationwide area for wind energy and to speed up the approval procedures. Nevertheless, there will be oppositional forces. “Many municipalities are against wind power not only because it is a great danger to birds, but also because the turbines disturb them and reduce property values,” says Wambach.

“Deutsche Bahn is very important for the coalition parties”

Wambach also recognises many sensible approaches in the reorganisation of Deutsche Bahn. Doubling passenger transport performance by 2030 is an ambitious goal. The coalition partners’ proposals to separate the company’s transport business from its monopolistic infrastructure activities are also correct. What the ZEW president still lacks in the long-distance transport sector, however, are plans on how to strengthen competition: “Competition leads to companies working more cost-effectively and offering better quality. The coalition agreement doesn't say much about that.”
Despite all the criticism, Wambach sees a great need for action. The new government has an unenviable task in many respects: “The course must be set very firmly and both the companies and the employees must be taken along – that is a big task.”