Baerbock’s Climate Policy Getting Hotter as the EU strives for energy independence

  • Baerbock is the first ever foreign minister to assign global warming as her central policy issue.
  • Renewable energy sources unlock a new future for energy independence.
  • The Russian invasion of Ukraine intensifies the need for radical change she is pushing for.
Annalena Baerbock
Annalena Baerbock MdB.Bundestagsfraktion Buendnis 90/Die Gruenen

  Why is Baerbock’s Climate Policy Hot?

Answer: Baerbock’s push for renewable energy brings about a new, independent chapter for energy security both for the EU and Germany.

Ever since Baerbock gave her candidacy speech to become the German Greens’ co-chairperson in 2018, she has emphasised the importance of a rapid decoupling from fossil fuels. With Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, it’s been proven that dependence on fossil fuels is not only an environmental issue for Germany but a security one as well. The energy mix of the EU depends on imported natural gas as it makes up nearly a quarter of the energy mix, 41% of which was Russian gas.

Baerbock has been advocating for offshore wind energy to replace natural gas from Russia. She claimed that the electricity from wind and other renewable energy sources have the capacity to free Europe and Germany from Russian energy imports whilst combating global warming.Baerbock is positioning herself as a climate leader, assigning global warming as her central policy issue and applying an intersectional approach to it. Her climate policy influences almost every other policy area. Currently, Baerbock is the first foreign minister of Germany to create Germany’s National Security Strategy. This puts her under a spotlight as it is not only a transitional time for Germany but also for its international stance as a nation.

Who is changing Baerbock’s temperature?

Answer: Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and its repercussions increases the urgency to exit fossil fuels and find alternatives.

Baerbock finds support for her renewable efforts and opposition for her stance against using nuclear power. The Free Democratic Party, the third party of the governing federal coalition, supports renewable energy transition for its benefits of  becoming energy independent from Russia, but also pushed for the continued use of nuclear power. The Social Democratic Party, the party of chancellor Olaf Scholz and the occupant of most seats in the German parliament, is requesting the same. The main opposition party within Germany, the Christian Democratic Union, also advocates for the use of nuclear power.

Regionally, pressure on Baerbock’s nuclear opposition exists as well. The EU Commission has made a request to Germany in the light of the energy crisis. As one of the biggest suppliers of energy to the bloc, Germany’s efforts to exit from nuclear and coal power, is leaving a considerable energy supply vacuum. Instead of using nuclear energy, Baerbock and the green party are set to accept the longer use of coal in the short term to cope with the lack of energy supply instead of turning back to nuclear power.

To offset this vacuum without relaying to either coal or nuclear energy, Germany, in collaboration with Denmark, approved the Baltic Sea wind hub. Baerbock has been a long term advocate of employing offshore wind power to offset Russian gas whilst combating global warming and increasing energy security. According to her, the wind hub has the potential to produce more than double the installed capacity of all coal-fired power plants in Germany. 

Russia’s weaponization of its gas piqued the EU to increase the importance given to rid itself of energy dependence. Baerbock’s political agenda to make the EU independent from fossil fuels and replace the demand with renewables is getting hotter in this regard, but the pressure on her to use nuclear energy as well is mounting.

What is driving Baerbock?

Answer: Baerbock’s political agenda does not only encompass climate action for the sake of the environment but also the extent that the aftermath of climate action can reach.

The most important factor driving Annalena Baerbock is meeting the standards set out by the Paris Climate Agreement. This means reducing Germany’s CO2 emissions. Coal is the most polluting energy source which makes its replacement a main priority for the foreign minister. Her main solution for this is on and off shore wind energy. 

Furthermore, for Baerbock weaning off of fossil fuels is not only a climate issue now, but a security one as well. Using renewable energy sources instead of fossil fuels makes the EU and Germany strategically independent. This is especially relevant because the current main energy exporting countries do not share the Germany stands for. Currently, Germany is shifting its dependency from Russia to countries like Israel, Qatar, the UAE, Azerbaijan or Saudi Arabia. The more improvements Germany makes regarding renewable energy infrastructure, the more it will free its leaders like Baerbock from the constraints energy imports bring.

Lastly, according to Baerbock, the importance of combating global warming goes further than preventing the temperature rise. The opportunities for development will be preserved with every tenth of a degree of global warming that is prevented, to the extent that she sees it as a basis to solve terrorism, the food crisis, and improve international and national security.

What does this mean for you?

Answer: Baerbock pushes for an intersectoral and international approach for climate action, if she succeeds, her policies will impact you.

Baerbock focuses on increasing global collaboration for climate action significantly to achieve results. As her main focus is to highlight the complexity of climate action, Baerbock advocates that it must be dealt with in every aspect of governance. She mostly focused on economic and security aspects so far. 

Along with the G7 Foreign Ministers, Baerbock launched a Climate, Environment, Peace and Security Initiative. The objective is to promote and implement practical and operational actions, approaches, and solutions to help address climate and environmental risks for global peace and stability. There is a focus on maintaining the target of keeping warming to 1.5°C within reach, stopping and reversing biodiversity loss by 2030, and achieving net zero emissions globally.

The future is moving towards increased green deals, policies, and climate action across all sectors of governance. Annalena Baerbock pioneering this approach makes her a climate leader.