On Wednesday, Commission President Ursula von der Leyen speaks in the European Parliament.

In her speech on the state of the EU, she is likely to propose that Europe's climate-damaging emissions in 2030 should be 55 percent below the 1990 level.

The new climate target is important for the international negotiations within the EU - but at most a step in the right direction, says Anton Hofreiter, chairman of the Greens in the Bundestag.

ZEIT ONLINE:

Mr. Hofreiter, what do you expect from the speech that Commission President von der Leyen will now give?

Anton Hofreiter:

I hope it announces a strong, ambitious climate target.

A decrease of 55 percent in climate-damaging emissions is the minimum.

The Environment Committee of the European Parliament is calling for a minus 60 percent and in order to meet the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement, we would actually need a minus of 65 percent.

We need ambitious climate protection, and now.

We are already in the middle of the climate crisis: The global average temperature has already risen by one degree, in California and Siberia the forests are burning and in Germany they are suffering from the drought.

ZEIT ONLINE:

In Germany, Minister of Economic Affairs Peter Altmaier has admitted failings in climate policy and announced more decisive action for the future.

Are these just declarations of intent or do you think that something is really going on?

Hofreiter

: It is up to the federal government to prove that.

Apologizing for past mistakes is not enough.

Especially not if you do the next one right away.

German industry yesterday rightly complained that the government was not setting a reliable framework for climate protection investments.

To avert the climate crisis, action counts.

The Union and the SPD have it in their hands - it is they who rule, they could do more.

ZEIT ONLINE:

What specifically do you think the federal government should do?

Hofreiter:

Minister Altmaier, for example, must ensure that the planned amendment to the Renewable Energy Sources Act significantly accelerates the expansion of wind and solar energy.

Its current design does not, on the contrary.

Transport policy requires a comprehensive offensive for buses, trains and bicycles.

We need an effective carbon price.

And at the European level, this time the federal government must support tightening of the European fleet limits this time instead of blocking them.

We have to switch to emission-free drives faster.

ZEIT ONLINE:

Would the Greens take part in the talks on a climate charter as proposed by the Minister of Economics?

Hofreiter:

Of course, and very self-confidently with our own demands.

But: about a year ago Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer initiated talks about a climate consensus - and that has not come up to this day, although we have asked several times. We have enough ideas about what to do: In order to advance renewables, one would have to For example, simplify the complicated tendering rules for photovoltaics and allow investors in offshore wind energy to secure themselves through contracts for difference, i.e. with a state assumption of risk.

In order for the steel industry to be able to generate its energy from climate-friendly hydrogen in the future, it must also be able to use contracts for difference.

We know how to make the railways more reliable and punctual ...

ZEIT ONLINE:

Claims are all well and good, but Minister Altmaier speaks of a climate consensus.

The Greens would have to compromise.

Hofreiter:

There is already a minimum consensus that the German government has signed, that is the Paris Agreement.

Germany must be measured by this.

And so far, even the Federal Government's experts have said that its current climate policy is insufficient.

Under no circumstances will we endorse an agreement outside of the Paris Agreement.

ZEIT ONLINE:

How dangerous will it be for the Greens when leading Union politicians are now pushing the climate issue?

Hofreiter:

Not at all.

We are going into the next federal election campaign with a claim to leadership.

Our goal is to implement Paris and to flank it with economic and social policy measures so that we can create a socio-ecological transformation.

We bring sustainable prosperity, climate protection and social justice together.

The measures the Minister of Economic Affairs has proposed so far are still a long way from the Paris goals.

ZEIT ONLINE:

Assuming that the EU agrees on an emissions target of minus 60 percent by 2030. What consequences would that have for German climate policy?

Hofreiter:

That depends on the measures with which the EU target is linked.

A part of climate policy takes place directly at EU level, for example emissions trading.

If it is tightened, it will have consequences for the coal phase-out in Germany.

And far too little has happened in the transport and heating sectors.

Renewable energies should definitely be expanded much faster.

We urgently need renewable electricity for the drive turnaround in transport, for steel production and the chemical industry so that the hydrogen strategy really benefits the climate. I think Germany, as a large, strong country, must definitely do more in the future.

If politicians do this wisely, climate protection will become an international competitive advantage.

The steel industry, for example, sees the switch to almost CO2-free production as a great opportunity.

The aircraft manufacturer Airbus also wants to invest in green technologies.

What industry needs in order to reposition itself are clear framework conditions and a policy that acts quickly and decisively.

Otherwise de-industrialization threatens us.

We want to prevent that.

ZEIT ONLINE:

In December, the EU would have to register its new climate target with the United Nations.

Will she do it?

Hofreiter: My great concern is that it will not succeed. Hence my urgent call to the German government to put pressure on at European level so that climate policy is on the table at the upcoming summit in October.

Here Minister Altmaier can show how serious he is about climate protection.

At the moment it looks like the first time to talk about the climate is December.

Then it would be difficult to register the new target in time.