Germany’s ministers are setting up in their new offices for the first time when Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock (Greens) is already making her first business trip to Paris – by plane.
It is not unusual for Baerbock to travel abroad as Foreign Minister. But the fact that it was precisely she who previously called for air traffic to be curbed, including international air traffic, is not without a certain piquancy. The shitstorm on the net followed immediately, a little later a wave of indignant defenders Baerbocks who shook their heads at the excitement.
By train, Baerbock would have got from Berlin to Paris in eleven hours. That would have been doable. The German Foreign Minister could have taken her Austrian party colleague, Climate Minister Leonore Gewessler, as an example. She even traveled home by train from the World Climate Conference in Glasgow, Scotland. That was climate-friendly, but it took a whole 27 hours.
Annalena Baerbock seems to have reacted to the displeasure: she chose the train for her subsequent trip to Brussels, the second stop on her first business trip. At the Nord train station in Paris, she boarded the Thalys in the direction of Belgium. It is still unclear how she will get from Brussels to Warsaw and from there back to Berlin. Should the German foreign minister travel to Moscow or Beijing in the future – where she could expect a rather cool reception despite climate change – it will be difficult without a plane, not to mention Washington. The alternatives to flying are time-consuming and expensive.
But above all: With or without Baerbock, people will not fly less, but more. Greens also have to ask themselves to what extent their worldview is compatible with this world and their own everyday life. If flights become a problem for business people but there is no alternative for politicians, the accusation of hypocrisy cannot be dismissed out of hand.
PS: If a world with less air traffic remains a utopia, it might be more honest not to ask for it in the first place.