The appointment of Greenpeace boss Jennifer Morgan as Germany’s climate envoy marks another high point for the climate movement’s move into mainstream politics. But with that prominence and power will come a trade-off.
“Germany’s international climate policy now has a face,” Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said at a press conference with Morgan in Berlin. Wednesday.
Morgan will come into office in conflict with certain elements of German and European politics. Just last week she slammed the EU’s decision to classify gas and nuclear power as green under the bloc New financial taxonomy. Germany supports the inclusion of gas – although green politicians like Baerbock oppose it.
The government is also officially in favor of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, against which Greenpeace has protested and fought in court under Morgan.
When asked at the press conference if she could stay true to her activism, Morgan replied, “I find places where I think I can make the biggest difference. At this historic moment, I believe it is here at the Department of Foreign Affairs.
The opposition criticized the appointment of an activist to high office, with a senior Conservative politician ask if the government also invited Antifa – a far-left political movement – to the Interior Ministry.
While leading Greenpeace, Morgan played both sides. She has retained her access to the highest internal corridors of climate diplomacy while leading an organization that has regularly opposed the governments she has dealt with behind closed doors.
In the final days of the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow last year, she huddled with China’s climate envoy Xie Zhenhua and the EU’s Frans Timmermans – now her counterparts.
“Morgan has decades of trusting relationships with those who would agree with her and those who disagree – her integrity is key to the role,” said Rachel Kyte, dean of the Fletcher School at Tufts University. .
Baerbock’s plans for an ambitious Klimaaußenpolitik, or climate foreign policy, are part of the new German government’s broader efforts to make cutting emissions an interdepartmental affair. Under previous coalitions, green policy languished mainly in the smaller environment ministry.
“The minister made it clear that the federal government no longer views climate policy in isolation, as a matter of technical policy,” said Morgan, who has lived in Berlin since 2003.
It also requires a broader shift within the German foreign ministry and embassies, Baerbock told reporters.
“There will not be just one climate ambassador – we will transform the 226 German foreign missions into climate embassies in all countries of the world,” said Baerbock, adding: “In the 21st century, climate policy is also of geopolitics, which is why it belongs to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Climate change has risen to the forefront of geopolitical concerns, dominating discussions at last year’s G20 and G7 – Germany will host the latter this year, giving Morgan a big platform on which to push the agenda forward. climate of Berlin. Along with this, swaths of the climate movement – historically a political force defined by activism and protest – have been conscripted into the machinery of governments that take the issue seriously.
In the early days of the Biden presidency, a who’s-who of the American climate movement found themselves with jobs in the White House or other branches of government. COP26 saw the UK government appoint a host of think tanks and green activists to government posts.
In Chile, the new government has appointed the climatologist Maisa Rojas to be his environment minister. Spain’s current Minister for Ecological Transition, Teresa Ribera, and France’s top diplomat at the 2015 Paris climate talks, Laurence Tubiana, are former heads of a Paris-based think tank, the Institut sustainable development and international relations.
It doesn’t always work. French President Emmanuel Macron’s appointment of environmental activist Nicolas Hulot as minister for ecological transition turned sour as Hulot was unhappy with the slow pace of change.
Morgan, born in the United States, will begin work as special envoy on March 1. She will become state secretary in Baerbock’s ministry once her application for German citizenship has been accepted.
“With my many years of experience in the climate movement and in think tanks, I want to influence climate policy…in order to achieve global climate neutrality and climate justice,” she said. “After six excellent years with Greenpeace, this is a unique opportunity to work with a green foreign minister on the issue that has driven me for 30 years.”