Germany's opposition Greens have unveiled an ambitious party program ahead of September's general elections to overhaul the economy and create millions of jobs by investing in climate change prevention and education.
Green party leader Cem Oezdemir says "green issues are the issues of the future"
At a party conference in Berlin on Saturday, delegates called for a "New Green Deal" and said new climate change policies -- and the millions of new jobs they would be expected to create -- are key to resolving the economic crisis.
"From (US President Barack) Obama to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, green issues are seen as the issues of the future," party leader Cem Oezdemir said.
The environmentalist party's platform calls for millions of new jobs by 2013. The party, whose seven-year government coalition with the Social Democrats (SPD) ended in 2005, said the majority of jobs would emerge in the climate-protection sector, in particular by investing in insulation technologies for buildings and in renewable energy.
Expanding childcare centers and all-day schools would create further jobs, the party said in its election manifesto.
Emphasis on green issues
The party, which is angling to be a junior partner in the next government, said it wants to enshrine climate change prevention as a fundamental principle in Germany's constitution. To this end, it would seek to reduce carbon dioxide emissions to levels 40 per cent below those from 1990.
By 2040, all energy sources should be renewable, according to the party's platform. The Greens are also calling for subsidies for energy efficient homes and a 120-kilometer-per-hour speed limit on German highways.
"Room for Content": cloth tote bags with the Green Party logo
Juergen Trittin, the Green Party's top candidate for the parliamentary polls, urged members to work hard to return the party to power at the federal level.
"Only green policies can help to overcome the crisis. That's why this country needs to be ruled by the Green Party again," Trittin said in his speech. "We need a coalition of ecological modernization, social justice and civil rights that can meet global challenges."
The party also voted to back a minimum wage of 7.5 euros ($10) per hour. Party members called for higher taxes for the wealthy, including an increase in the top tax bracket and higher capital gains taxes, coupled with lower welfare contributions for people on low incomes. Those measures would help soften the fiscal blow of the economic crisis, the party said.
At other party conferences, Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU) formally chose her to lead their party into the September national election.
Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier's left-leaning Social Democratic Party (SPD) chose him as their leading candidate for the upcoming vote.
Liberal FDP leader, Guido Westerwelle, whose party could end up being the kingmakers, said he would prefer a coalition with Merkel's conservatives.