The new SPD Environment Minister Svenja Schulze is not an expert in eco-politics. Sounds scandalous? But it’s a good old tradition in the ministry.
Here you go, the new girl! Expert Hendricks and newcomer Schulze Photo: dpa
A good friend of ours was asked by her boss the other day if she didn’t want to become a department head. "I declined," she says, "because I had no idea about the field." That’s how it goes sometimes in real life.
In politics, it’s different. There, trust of the party leadership, proportional representation and assertiveness count. Expertise is just an additional qualification. The health minister has been to the hospital before, the foreign minister has been on a trip before. And so, with Svenja Schulze, we get an SPD environment minister who has so far associated the environment primarily with the fact that she once sat on the environment committee in NRW a long time ago.
Schulze is thus continuing a tradition: the heads of department in the Ministry of the Environment have no idea what it’s all about when they take office. Walter Wallmann was gone right away. Klaus Topfer swam through the Rhine and on important issues. Angela Merkel, as a physicist, believed in the blessing of nuclear power. Jurgen Trittin was a Green, but not an eco. Sigmar Gabriel would actually have preferred to stay on the supervisory board at VW. Norbert Rottgen had actually planned to become head of the BDI. Peter Altmaier thought he was much smarter than his officials.
Elbows are more important than rubber boots
Barbara Hendricks demonstrated a clear lack of curiosity about environmental issues, especially at the beginning. And now, when the government was formed, it was suddenly announced that Matthias Miersch could become the new environment minister. An experienced environmental politician who can distinguish between particulate matter and nitrogen oxide! However, the SPD remained true to the motto "Avanti Dilettanti!
But it’s quite enough if Svenja Schulze can read out the greeting to the biodiversity congress without any accidents. It is much more important that she finds allies for her mini-ministry to stop the bad black boys in agriculture, transport and energy. That she forms alliances with Parliament, the thinking parts of industry, the associations and unions to save the future from the ignorance of the present. Perhaps only an IG-BCE member like Schulze can push through the coal phase-out, just as only the CDU was able to abolish conscription.
Of course, Svenja Schulze needs a bit of tuition in matters of ecology. But elbows at the cabinet table are much more important than rubber boots at the site visit. Environmental policy is about power, not knowledge. No idea? Doesn’t matter. It would be worse to have no power.