Annalena Baerbock’s solutions, her policy outlook, is accordant with two fundamental objectives. The first, increasing collaboration amongst departments, organizations and countries. Second, phasing out of fossil fuels with priority given to withdrawing from coal energy completely. Baerbock’s proposed and implemented solutions have been consistent with these two tenets whether she occupied the seat of the Greens’ co-chairperson or as Germany’s foreign minister. One important distinction, and in line with the nature of both positions, is during Baerbock’s time as the Greens’ co-chairperson is that she focused on phasing Germany out of coal energy completely; and increasing the funding, as well as support, for sustainable development and employment of renewable sources. Whereas, within the foreign ministry, Baerbock’s focus has been on increasing the collaboration amongst union states, departments, and organizations with primary focus given to address and better international climate policies but always with the aim of phasing out fossil fuels.
Studying Baerbock’s solutions enables the profile to trace the ways in which, and indicate for what aim, Baerbock can propose policies to be implemented, as well as possible responses to adversity and/or criticism to her propositions. This section of the analysis warrants the profile to assemble patterns in order to present a bigger picture guiding to the kind of solutions Baerbock tends to push for and implement within the extent of her power.
From Baerbock’s 2018 election speech to the solutions she pushes for as the foreign minister, Baerbock emphasized collective action and collaboration to showcase how multifaceted climate action is and how intersectional it should be approached. In line with her ideological outlook, Baerbock’s policy outlook has also remained consistent. She aims to establish climate action as the main umbrella which outlines the structure and how-to for future policies, initiatives, and projects. The biggest obstacle Baerbock is facing regarding climate action through her policy outlook has been the employment of fossil fuels – especially coal – to meet Germany’s energy demand.
Baerbock’s Domestic Solutions
Ever since Baerbock assumed the position of the Greens’ co-chairperson in 2018, she gave importance to accelerating Germany’s phase-out from coal energy and the necessity of doing that radically, as explained in the section defining moment.
During the electoral process, Baerbock assumed the stage in September 2021 to adopt the six-page draft of the Social Pact for Climate-Friendly Prosperity, a leading motion that combines climate protection with a strong social policy; and promised to partly compensate people if gasoline prices continue to rise because of climate protection policies. According to the adopted draft, the Greens aimed to offer employees security during the transition, avoid social hardship and create new jobs.
Through the adoption of the draft, the Greens promised to support citizens amidst the transition to green in four channels: employees and companies, tenants, low income groups, and change in everyday life. The main motivation behind assuring that climate action has minimal impact on the citizens lives was a campaign strategy to avoid scaring away votes with the often cited radicalism and to maintain widespread popular support for climate policies. The promised initiatives, respectively, were:
- Supporting employees and businesses by converting unemployment insurance into employment insurance necessitating the development of short-term work and the strengthening of collective bargaining and co-determination. Meanwhile, the focus of business will be broadened to enable investments to increase in a climate-friendly manner, particularly in the wake of the Corona crisis.
- Climate protection agreements and European climate tariffs, such as an investment program that calls for additional investments in climate neutrality, digitization, and infrastructure totaling 500 billion Euros over 10 years, will protect and assist the industry’s reorganization.
- Tightening the rental price brake and ensuring that tenants do not pay the costs of energy-saving renovation and the CO2 price for heating whilst increasing the federal funding for the construction of social housing permanently.
- Through the introduction of a mix of incentives and funding, regulatory law and CO2 pricing, social fairness of climate protection in everyday life will be ensured whilst making economic sense.
The promises of the pact draw parallels with the 2030 Agenda. The proposed manifesto also included plans to ensure sustainable mobility, compensate low earners for the costs of increased energy prices. Furthermore, the 2030 Agenda planned to implement ambitious guidelines for CO2 reduction targets, phase-out combustion engines by 2030, commit five percent of German forests back to nature, increase the share of organic farming to thirty percent by 2030, and invest fifty billion euros annually in the socio-ecological transformation of the country to create new green jobs.
To secure climate-friendly prosperity and set standards Baerbock offered an industry pact called Carbon Contracts for Difference, CCfDs, a funding mechanism that offer governments the opportunity to guarantee investors a fixed price that rewards CO2 emission reductions above the current price levels in the EU Emissions Trading System. According to Baerbock, as global competition between the leading economic regions of the EU, USA and China was in full swing, climate neutrality was going to be the decisive factor in the markets of the future. Through CCfDs “there was a great opportunity to gain decisive competitive advantages for Germany and the entire EU”.
The advantage of such a stance for implementing green policy—which Baerbock herself describes as radical—is that it alters the narrative surrounding climate action and the urgency of its prompt and effective implementation. It further showcases that climate action is not a separate branch of politics, policy making, or activism for Baerbock but that it must be a main category under which politics and policy making unite to create a strong, sustainable system.
Regarding the expected opposition, CDU/CSU is one of the primary veto-player against Baerbock’s, and the Green Party’s, solutions regarding accelerating coal phase-out, since the CDU/CSU’s policies and point of view are not willing to compromise stability with ambiguity. Nor is the CDU/CSU willing to give up both nuclear and coal power simultaneously as coal is Germany’s most important fossil power source and such a decision presents a potential risk to the security of its power supply as renewable power sources could not replace hard coal and lignite plants instantly. Secondly, SPD, the Social Democratic Party, is another, possible, primary veto-player against the radical policy outlook of Baerbock, since green policies have disproportionately affected voters of the SPD. It must be noted that the current chancellor of Germany, Olaf Scholz, is from SPD which shows the public inclination and dominant point of view as well as the dominant power within the parliament as the party occupies the majority of the seats. Furthermore, climate action policies are costly, which makes Chairman Christian Linder, the Finance Minister of Germany from the Free Democrats who is in the traffic light coalition with the Greens and the SPD, a possible veto player for the green policies regarding the required budget.
It remains to be noted that the solutions presented in the domestic section of Baerbock’s policy outlook had been proposed prior to Russia’s War of aggression against Ukraine and had been planned accordingly without the presence or anticipation of any energy crisis neither in Germany nor the EU.
Baerbock’s Solutions Regionally and Internationally
Regionally and internationally, Baerbock assumed the foreign ministry a few months before the Russian invasion of Ukraine started. As one of the first orders of business, Baerbock moved the international climate policy from the Environmental Ministry to the Foreign Ministry and established an inter-ministerial approach to climate change mitigation, “to make it clear that no single ministry or country can solve this alone.” Under this approach, every single ministry needs to present specific actions on how each area of governance can contribute to combating global warming.
Baerbock then recruited the chief of Greenpeace International, American Jennifer Morgan, as her special envoy for international climate policy, making Germany join a small group of countries with designated envoys to handle international climate change diplomacy.
Furthermore, Baerbock advocated for improving the EU’s ability to move forward with crucial policy tasks such as green and digital transformation in regards to her plan for the future of the EU. Additionally, during Germany’s presidency in G7, Baerbock stated that reaching the promise of raising an additional one hundred billion US dollars for climate funding between the G7 members was of importance as according to Baerbock investments in climate change mitigation were investments in energy security. To reach such a goal and to reach it effectively, Baerbock advocated for a geostrategic approach that takes into account other challenges of climate change mitigation.
According to Baerbock, the food crisis, security issues, and the climate crisis are all becoming interrelated problems. However, it is also possible to see this as ‘a major opportunity.’ The potential for development will be preserved for every tenth of a degree of global warming that can be avoided. Regarding security issues, as terrorism specifically takes advantage of the lack of it, counterterrorism operations will be bolstered by improving development initiatives. Farmers’ children are being recruited as child soldiers because their fields are no longer suited for harvest and labor. Baerbock, thus advocates “If we at least begin to bring the climate crisis under control, that will also contribute to security policy in vulnerable regions.”
Moreover, Baerbock stated that she will employ Germany’s G7 presidency to launch a global and inclusive “Climate, Environment, Peace and Security Initiative.” As an international, future initiative, Baerbock advocates a closer collaboration for a transatlantic green deal with the United states will bring Germany, and the EU, a bright future. Baerbock sees a chance ahead for both sides of the Atlantic because with a new Biden administration the United States invests now in a future of carbon neutrality together with a strong movement on social justice, which is the same idea being grown on the other side of the Atlantic as a European Union with its Green New Deal.
With the start of the energy crisis both in Germany and the EU due to Russian invasion and the decrease of Russian gas supplied, Germany intensified its pursuit for alternative energy sources. As the external factors, the EU, and the internal factors within Germany pushed for re-employment of coal energy, Baerbock promoted cooperation within the Baltic Sea region on the production of offshore wind energy. Utilizing the now assumed presidency of the Council of the Baltic, Baerbock explained electricity from wind and other renewable energy sources will free Europe from Russian energy imports and combat global warming.
As Russia weaponized Europe’s dependence on Russian gas in its war against Ukraine, Baerbock stated phasing out fossil fuels is therefore not only a climate policy necessity, but also a security policy imperative. As future initiatives, Baerbock recognises the high potential in Ukraine for renewable energy, for wind and solar. Hence, Baerbock advocates to update the pipeline from Ukraine to carry green hydrogen to Europe. This would make it possible to transport Ukrainian green energy to the European Union, avoiding dependency on Russia and bringing money to Ukraine. This shows how Baerbock advocates an intersectional approach to international climate. Combining climate policy with security policy provides a sustainable and secure solution to both matters.. These serve as examples for why Baerbock moved international climate policy to foreign ministry from the Environment Ministry.
In conclusion, Baerbock’s goal and objective for her political outlook is green progression without repeating the mistakes made in the past. Baerbock advocates for green energy to replace Russian Gas and to overcome not only dependence on Russian Gas but to any future dependence on fossil fuels, whether it is to Russia or any other country. She sees renewable energy not only as a necessity for climate action but also one for security since she considers renewable and green energy to be the future for energy independence; and she is using her position as foreign minister to do so. She opts for generating greener solutions through advocating the implementation of radical change instead of going back to solutions that worked before at the expense of the climate, except when it comes to using nuclear energy. Even though nuclear energy is a zero-emission power source, both Baerbock and the Greens draw a hard line when it comes to employing nuclear as they argue its risks outweigh its benefits. Baerbock aims to generate solutions for these aims through increasing intersectional cooperation amongst the EU, G7, and G20 countries to strive towards the same goal as a collective force.