In the wake of rising energy costs and a lackluster economy, the German Chamber of Commerce says that it's time to reevaluate Germany's environmental protection policies.
DIHK's Ludwig Georg Braun wants changes to enviromental policy
With a little over a week remaining before the German elections and almost every poll showing the race tightening, the president of the German Chamber of Commerce (DIHK), Ludwig Georg Braun, has entered the fray by suggesting that "Germany's environmental politics need to be reformulated."
Braun's suggestions were outlined in 20-point memo entitled "Economic Expectations of the Future Government" which is now posted on the DIHK Web site. The memo outlines in no vague terms the need for Germany to abandon it's moto of "protect the environment at any cost." Among other suggestions, the Braun plan calls for reductions in environmental regulations and bureaucracy, improved dialog with business and industry, changes in law governing use of chemicals (REACH), and a retraction of Germany's plan to cut greenhouse gas by 40 percent by 2020.
Less then enthusiastic reaction
The reaction to Ludwig-Braun's proposals did not go over very well with members of Chancellor Gerhard Schröders red-green coalition which maintains the need for strict environmental regulations not only in Germany, but throughout all of the worlds major economies.
German environment minister Jürgen Trittin does not think that environmental regulation and industry should oppose each other
Schröder's often outspoken Environmental Minister Jürgen Trittin, a member of the Green party, called Braun's suggestions "a complete subordination of environmental concerns to that of private industry." He went on to suggest that chamber was trying to twist the facts by making the association that protecting the environment need come at the cost of economic growth and investment.
Call for boycott
The German Alliance for Renewable Energy took their reaction a step further by calling for all businesses who manufacture green products or products that run on sustainable energy to withhold their mandatory dues to the DIHK in protest of their stance on environmental protection.
Economic topics have dominated the 2005 election campaign and industry leaders clearly feel confident enough that Schröder's conservative challenger Angela Merkel will win the poll on Sept. 18 that they begin to try to influence government policy.
However, with Schröder's Social Democrats surging in recent opinion polls, Braun might not be doing the business community any favors by pushing for radical changes to government policy since environmental protection remains an issue that most Germans feel very strongly about. Rolling back regulations that many feel are appropriate even in the face of economic consequences might be a political hot potato for anyone willing to touch it.