Germany’s Green Party candidate for chancellor, Annalena Baerbock, plans to cut jet fuel subsidies if she is elected as chancellor. She would carry out her project by making air travel more expensive and abololishing short-hault flights.

The Green Party is high in the polls and currently neck-in-neck with the Christian Democratic Union of Germany (CDU). With only four months ahead of the election, the Greens have a strong chance of winning the chancellery.

No more short-haul flights

Baerbock told the newspaper ”Bild am Sonntag” that she wants to introduce a climate-friendly taxation of flights. She estimates that it’s ”not fair” that long-distance train journeys are expensive, while kerosene (jet fuel for planes) is subsidized with the population’s tax money.

The chairwoman considers that those who travel as a family by train should pay less than for short-hault air travel.

Annalena Baerbock, chairwoman of the Greens

Considering the environmental impact of aviation, short-haul flights should be terminated according to her. She said: ”Cheap prices such as 29 euros for flights to Majorca should also no longer exist if we are serious about climate policy”. She added: ”Everyone can go on vacation wherever they want. But a climate-friendly taxation of flights would stop such dumping prices.”

Baerbock declared that if elected as chancelor, she would introduce an ”emergency climate protection program”. In addition, she would enforce a motion to have new buildings built using solar panels.

Criticisms from CDU and the FPD

On the other hand, the CDU and the Free Democratic Party (FDP) are critical of the approach taken by the Greens.

Indeed, Vice chairman of the CDU parliamentary group Ulrich Lange agrees that air traffic must contribute to helping the environmental cause. However, he doesn’t support the ban on short-hault flights and the price increases in air travel.

According to RDN, Lange explained that air travel must remain ”affordable for everyone”. and that it would be ”antisocial” if flying to a vacation became a luxury only affordable to the wealthy. Instead, he proposes to ”drive forward the decarbonization of air traffic in several stages with the use of low-CO2 fuels”. Lange claims that large amounts of CO2 could be saved by using green kerosene.

FDP parliamentary group vice chairman Michael Theurer also made harsh comments concerning Baerbock’s proposal. “The goal of climate protection policy should be to protect the climate,” he said, according to a DW article called ”Green Party leader Baerbock wants to abolish short-haul flights”. “Instead, the Greens are once again putting the focus on making people’s lives more expensive, controlling them and banning their joy of life.” In his view, climate reduction initiatives should focus on creating climate-neutral technologies and enforce EU emissions incentives.

Comment from Germany’s aviation industry

The German Air Transport Association also criticizes the solutions brought forth by the Greens. The association declared that domestic German flights are “part of an international flight connection, with travelers flying from Hamburg to Bangkok via Frankfurt, for example.” Therefore, a ban on these connections would only result in transfering passengers for a longer route. ”Flights would therefore still take place, just not with German airlines and in many cases even with detours instead, ” DW reported.

With regard to the proposed increase on flight tickets, the association stresses that Baerbock’s claims are ”incorrect”. For example, an additional kerosene tax would “not reduce emissions.”, but would only “shift air traffic to the detriment of German companies and jobs to locations on the Bosporus and in the Middle East”.

Maëli Coutu-Lupien

Maëli Coutu-Lupien is currently pursuing a BA in International relations and International Law at UQAM. She obtained her BA in Linguistics with a Minor in German in 2019 from the University of Concordia. In 2019, she worked as a Media and relations intern at the Embassy of Canada in Washington D.C. In her free time, she enjoys reading, taking walks in nature and kayaking.

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