Renate Künast: "We should not have allowed ourselves to be so scorned"
Since the Veggie Day, the Greens are regarded as patronizing party. At the same time, politics in the climate debate is betting more than ever before. Does that annoy you, Mrs. Künast?
In the 2013 election campaign, the Greens were punished properly. It was also the idea to introduce a mandatory veggie day for canteens. Renate Künast (63), ex-Minister of Agriculture and until 2013 group leader of her party, then tried to limit the damage. "We Greens need to re-locate," she demanded. For example, one has to define what freedom means under the conditions of the 21st century. To this day, the party is still liable in many places the image of wanting to restrict citizens in their freedom. And yet, the situation has changed. After two drought summers, the drama of climate change is a big topic for all parties. How does today's Member of the Bundestag look at the current debates in which even the Union and the SPD suddenly try to profile themselves with their primal demands?
ZEIT ONLINE: Mrs. Künast, do not you get annoyed? In the 2013 election campaign, the Greens were still sharply criticized for their idea of a veggie-day. Now, the SPD and the Union also want to limit individual freedom in the fight against climate change. Only this time nobody is seriously upset about it. On the contrary, they are praised for it.
Renate Künast: Oh, I would have to annoy so regularly. That's the way it is when you think about the big questions at an early stage. Then you get the full load. This was already the case at the Club of Rome. (Editor's note: The Club of Rome was founded in 1968 by experts from 30 countries committed to sustainability and became known worldwide in 1972 with a report on the limits of growth) or at that time, when I criticized the agricultural industry as Minister of Agriculture. If something moves in the right direction at the end, I gladly accept the hassle.
ZEIT ONLINE: And yet the Greens since the Veggie Day the image of a paternal and prohibition party. Today, however, a Federal Transport Minister can calmly talk about the need to increase the cost of air travel. What has happened there?
Künast: Well, part of the responsibility for making veggie day go wrong was with us. We should not have allowed ourselves to be so scorned by the really good idea. It was just a suggestion from many - but for the competition, of course, a welcome clue to work it off in isolation. However, we have long since overcome the imprinted image of the prohibition party. That is past. The nuclear accident in Fukushima or the drought summer have shown that one can no longer deny climate change. There is now consensus, almost across all parties, that we need to change. We have to produce, transport and live differently. The energy transition must finally move forward and we use our resources much more sparingly. The success of moves such as Fridays for Future shows that you have been swallowed up trying to declare us as a prohibition party.
ZEIT ONLINE: But how can the Greens still make their mark when all the other parties have discovered climate protection and environmental policy for themselves?
Künast: Rhetorically, the usual suspects naturally like to climb. Currently, the politicians of other parties outdo each other with new proposals every week - be it the plastic bag ban, an animal welfare label or the meat tax. But these are just small and inadequate individual measures. The all-important question is, how much money is worth a livable future for us and whether we have the courage to divert the tax revenues in the future so that something really changes structurally. Since lacks other parties, the courage.
ZEIT ONLINE: When you took back the Veggie Day in 2013, her colleague Anton Hofreiter said: "Patronizing the individual on the basis of his lifestyle was never the goal. What you eat and what you do not eat is part of individual freedom and self-determination. Is it necessary to rethink the notion of freedom in the face of the drama of climate change?
Künast: It does not make sense, as a policy, to relinquish responsibility to the individual alone, that is to say, above all, to take the individual into account. The point is to change the basic structures and thereby enable a sustainable life.
ZEIT ONLINE: meat consumption? Fly? Plastic bags? Those are quite individual decisions!
Künast: Right, but it must be our goal to make a sustainable, ecologically smart life possible. People have ethical convictions, but face a range of non-transparent products and services and a huge drum of advertising about the supposedly good life. It takes more than small individual measures.