What are liberal perspectives

Liberal Perspectives in Climate Policy

Free democrats have always been committed to bequeathing a good legacy to the next generations: low debt, good infrastructure, a functioning constitutional state and a defensive democratic order, but no ecological burdens. Because these restrict the options for action and thus the freedom of future generations.

Commitment to climate protection as a responsibility for future generations

“For us Free Democrats as advocates for intergenerational justice, one thing is clear: Climate protection is a central human task in this century.” That is why we are expressly committed to the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement of 2015, through the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and the creation of sinks by 2050 to keep global warming below 2 ° C. We demand the implementation of the climate agreement out of respect for the knowledge of science and treaty loyalty in an international context.

Instruments of Liberal Climate Policy

To achieve this goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, we rely on market-based measures. That is why we support the European Emissions Trading System (ETS) and corresponding measures at state level.

a) Accelerating the European Emissions Trading System

The EU ETS, introduced in 2005, obliges the power generation and processing industries as well as airlines to buy rights to emit greenhouse gases. These operators are responsible for around 45% of greenhouse gas emissions in the EU. The number of emission rights and thus also the total volume of permitted emissions is reduced annually. We stand up for a courageous acceleration of the reduction of emissions, if technical progress and economic efficiency allow this. For this purpose, it should be checked every 4 years to what extent the annual quota for the reduction of certificates must and can be changed in order to achieve the climate targets.

b) Expansion of the European emissions trading system as an essential market economy control system

The Free Democrats want better climate protection and are calling for the ETS to be extended to other sectors. The emission sources of traffic, buildings and waste disposal that are not yet covered by the ETS must also reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. The Fuel Emissions Trading Act, which will apply in Germany from 2021, covers these areas, but does not use the instrument of taxing emissions in a market-based way and, unlike the ETS, does not cap emissions. The effectiveness of the Fuel Emissions Act should therefore also be checked every 4 years. If the law proves to be ineffective, we call for it to be further developed into a market-based control instrument based on the ETS model. We take a critical view of the nationally set targets for individual sectors, because it depends on the total amount. Where and in what way greenhouse gases are reduced must always be based on technical possibilities and economic efficiency. With all the ambition and the willingness to go ahead in avoiding CO2 emissions, we must always ensure that we do not overtax or even destroy the economic basis of Europe through disproportionate cost burdens in a global comparison. It will neither serve the environment nor people if Europe massively reduces fossil fuels, while in other parts of the world - primarily in China and the USA - the number of coal-fired power plants continues to be expanded. That is why the measures and costs taken in Europe must be regularly checked not only for their effect, but also for their worldwide appropriateness. The Free Democrats are calling for measures with proven effectiveness to be introduced beyond Europe.

That is why we are striving for a cooperation between the EU ETS and other emissions trading systems worldwide in order to expand the scope of the certificate trading. This “linking” is intended to reduce costs and improve the liquidity and stability of the market. The linking also demonstrates a symbolic value by illustrating a global effort to reduce CO2 emissions. Another advantage of linking would be that the possibility of “carbon leakage”, ie the relocation of production and thus of CO2 emissions to other EU countries, is reduced for companies.

c) Energy efficiency and economic reason

Energy efficiency is very important to Free Democrats. “Every kilowatt hour that is saved causes no costs, does not use any resources and does not emit any CO2.” It is therefore good and, in view of future rising prices for CO2, also economically sensible to invest in reducing and avoiding greenhouse gas emissions. The state can neither know nor should it define what is reasonable for the private sector. “Private households, property owners and companies must be able to freely decide on their investments to increase energy efficiency.” Here, joint initiatives can also contribute to energy efficiency, which should be increasingly promoted and demanded, be it in the area of ​​energy-efficient building insulation, heat supply or even Mobility and drive technology.

d) Bringing the public sector into a role model

Greenhouse gas-emitting institutions in the state and municipalities (including those in which the state and / or municipalities are involved) are to be obliged to submit reports on their greenhouse gas emissions and reduction measures from 2021. Private companies in certain economic sectors are already required to publish very extensive non-financial sustainability reports. The public authorities have to set a good example when setting such guidelines for private companies. Appropriate funds are to be made available for this. Public investments that will be or can be recorded by the ETS in the future should only be made if they can be justified over the usage phase despite rising ETS prices. In this way, the public sector also contributes at the municipal level to the fact that the total volume of emissions is reduced annually on the one hand. At the same time, emissions are saved where it is technically possible and economically attractive.

e) Achieve climate protection in a technology-neutral manner

"With a market economy framework in which the CO2 price acts as the central control parameter in all economic sectors with relevant CO2 emissions, new impulses and business models arise." But these must also be made possible. The proceeds from emissions trading are to be invested in the development and implementation of emission-free energies, a carbon cycle economy and other measures that serve to reduce greenhouse gases. In addition, we trust - wherever possible - in the innovative strength of the market economy and fundamentally reject government regulations as to which technologies should be used.

In addition to reducing CO2 emissions, it is also possible to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and thus lower the concentration. The CO2 obtained can either be stored or used (carbon capture and utilization). The storage of CO2 as a solid with a previous chemical reaction can represent a common alternative for reducing the CO2 concentration. We reject storage without a previous chemical reaction, as it is not a sustainable solution and is associated with high risks. The Free Democrats of Hesse welcome the recycling of CO2. The carbon capture process should also become part of the certificate trade. As Free Democrats of Hesse, we see ourselves as progress-friendly and open to technology. That is why we advocate a new and, above all, positive discourse in the geoengineering debate. Here we want to further research and, if possible, test the possibilities that are offered to us, such as CO2 capture technologies and methods of radiation management. Organic measures, such as the rearing of algae, which can also be used as biomass for energy generation, should also be mentioned here.

f) Adapt to climate change

Climate protection in accordance with the Paris Agreement is a priority for us. However, the agreement only limits global warming. It is therefore necessary to adapt to unavoidable climatic changes. We therefore call for medium and long-term adaptation measures for the public space to be planned and for funds to be provided in budget planning for their implementation. This also includes support for suitable measures in the private sector. This includes, for example, the creation of infiltration areas and the shading of private buildings and areas in order to preserve the groundwater and counteract the heating of urban spaces. Another component for effective climate protection is the use and expansion of organic CO2 storage. We expressly support measures for afforestation as well as for the protection of existing forests and moors and want to use the potential of the forest and especially the moors as natural storage. For example, in this context, areas that are no longer used for agriculture can be converted into forest or preferably moor. Hessian forests must also be managed in a way that preserves their substance.

Measures to adapt to climate change are not possible without specific local knowledge and are therefore a genuinely communal task.

Liberal responses to wrongdoing in climate policy

a) Think future - act now

The world climate will not only be saved in Hesse and not only in Germany. However, this does not release us from our responsibility as one of the largest economies to proceed with an ambitious and at the same time sensible climate policy. The younger generation in particular expects a political concept that can effectively achieve climate protection with a balanced consideration of social, ecological and economic aspects. A culture of artificially created bad conscience (keyword “flight shame”) is not suitable for this; it consciously or unconsciously accepts a weakening of industry and competitiveness. On the other hand, it is sustainable to provide market-based and technology-neutral economic incentives for the development and implementation of a low-emission economy. All areas of the private and public economy must face this challenge.

b) No abuse of climate policy

Some actors in climate policy misuse this important issue for their own purposes. Instead of proposing efficient and targeted solutions, they speak of a restructuring of the free, free-market societies as part of a "great transformation". As on a rice board, future scenarios of “energy turnaround”, “traffic turnaround”, “food turnaround”, “consumption turnaround” and other turnarounds are formulated here. The Free Democrats oppose such methods, which tend towards a planned economy, with a future-oriented policy that provides for the future, but does not claim to want to define the technologies and lifestyles of the people of the day after tomorrow.

c) Less bureaucracy and a planned economy

The protection of the climate is too important to be approached bureaucratically and in a planned economy. Nevertheless, such strategies dominate with devastating consequences: The costs get out of hand without any reasonable success. However, we also know that environmental protection has its price, which cannot always be quantified in monetary terms. Let's change the strategy for climate protection in the direction of a market economy under ecological framework conditions.

d) Openness to technology What all the proposed measures have in common is that we rely on innovative strength and openness to technology, because we do not know which options science and technology development will open up for us in the future. The framework conditions must therefore be designed in such a way that new developments are not inhibited, but their breakthrough is promoted in the interest of improved economic and ecological competitiveness. The state's framework also includes the provision of a public infrastructure that allows different technologies to prove themselves in practice according to the needs of the citizens. We reject a restriction on technologies selected by politicians.