A popular initiative for biodiversity in Bavaria was signed by 18.3% of the eligible population. The minister-president from the conservative CSU supported the proposal and accepted it in its entirety.

In neighbouring Baden-Württemberg, a similar (?) initiative for biodiversity is currently under consideration, but the minister-president from the Green Party has already stated (paraphrasing mine) "not like this".

There must be some significant difference between the two initiatives if one of them is supported by a minister-president from the conservative party, but the other is opposed by a minister-president from the green party. The Green Party PM states he opposes the complete ban on pesticides in nature protection areas, but this ban appears to be included in the Bavarian initiative as well (as far as the German language Wikipedia can be trusted).

How does the Baden-Württemberg "save the bees" initiative differ from the Bavarian biodiversity initiative? Why is it that one is well received, even by conservatives, and the other is criticised, even by greens?


First of all, Winfried Kretschmann, minister-president of Baden-Württemberg, isn't really a typical representative of the Green party. He belongs to the Green-Conservative wing of the party which combines green policies with economic liberalism. This wing generally tries to find a balance between environmentalist concerns and economic concerns.

Now about the two initiatives: There is indeed a difference between them when it comes to pesticide usage on agriculturally used land which is within nature protection areas.

The text of the Bavarian initiative [German] has an exception in article 23a which allows the use of pesticides in "intensively used agricultural and fishing areas" within nature protection areas.

The text of the Baden-Württemberg initiative [German], on the other hand, has no such exception in its article 34. That's the main point of criticism made by Kretschmann. He claims that this will have "dramatic consequences for thousands of agricultural businesses".

But it should also be noted that both proposals include a loophole which allows the Naturschutzbehörde (bureau of nature protection) to permit exceptions.

  • The "bizarre" angle was more 'to the point' for answering the question than differences in the proposal texts for explaining the reactions. Or in your new angle "for thousands of conventional (& among others climate unfriendly, environmentally unfirendly) businesses" (among those 'agro businesses' big corporations, not small family organic farmers…) – LаngLаngС Oct 13 '19 at 11:44
  • @LangLangC Please don't try to start a debate about environmental policy. This is not a discussion forum. Do you have any constructive criticism how I can improve my answer to better explain what was asked in the question? – Philipp Oct 13 '19 at 11:45
  • The ödp supports it — isn't the ödp rather green conservative? I'm aware the ödp is small. – gerrit Oct 13 '19 at 15:26
  • 1
    @gerrit The ÖDP is very left-wing on economic topics and clearly puts ecological over economic concerns. I would personally consider them more fundamentalist than Bündnis 90 in this regard. But they are more conservative than Bündnis 90 on social issues which are unrelated to environmentalism, like abortion (pro-life), drug legalization (against) or LGBT+ rights (not mentioned at all in their party program) – Philipp Oct 15 '19 at 11:47
  • @Philipp Ok, I admit I know very little about ÖDP! – gerrit Oct 15 '19 at 11:48

The textual differences between both proposals are present, but not the main issue.

The Baden-Württemberg (BW) proposal says pesticides should be reduced by 50% as a global goal and that pesticides should be summarily forbidden on land that is within a nature reserve. PM Kretschmann says such a law would be impossible. But the BW initiative also calls for a far greater expansion of organic farming as a global goal: Bavaria 30% until 2030, BW 50% until 2035.

Bavarian law now says in Art. 23a:

The use of pesticides (plant protection products and biocides) in accordance with Article 3(10) of Directive 2009/128/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 21 October 2009 establishing a Community action framework for the sustainable use of pesticides (OJ 2009 L 309, p. 71), as amended, is prohibited in nature reserves, in legally protected landscape components and in legally protected biotopes outside intensively used agricultural and fisheries areas. The nature conservation authority may permit the use of these means provided that there is no risk of endangering the protective purpose of the protected areas or protected objects mentioned in sentence 1.

The BW proposal says:

Prohibition of pesticides on areas protected under nature conservation law, with clearly defined exceptions.

For BW in the exact words:

§ 34 Prohibition of pesticides
The use of pesticides (plant protection products and biocides) in accordance with Article 3(10) of Directive 2009/128/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 21 October 2009 establishing a framework for Community action to achieve a sustainable use of pesticides (OJ L 309, 24.11.2009, p. 1). 71) as amended shall be prohibited in nature protection areas, in core and maintenance zones of biosphere reserves, in legally protected biotopes, in Natura 2000 sites, in natural monuments and landscape protection areas to the extent that they serve to preserve, develop or restore the performance and functionality of the natural balance or the regenerative capacity and sustainable usability of natural resources, including the protection of habitats and habitats of certain wild fauna and flora species. The lower nature conservation authority may, upon application, permit the use of certain means in individual cases, provided that there is no fear of endangering the purpose of protection of the protected areas or protected objects mentioned in sentence 1. The higher nature conservation authority may permit the use of these funds for the respective area if there is no fear of endangering the protective purpose of the protected areas or protected objects mentioned in sentence 1. The competent ministry shall report annually to Parliament on the exemptions granted. Further regulations remain unaffected".

So Kretschmann says that the idea in the proposal for his state would be impossible, yet in Bavaria this was put into law, in an arguably insignificantly milder form.

How can that be?

The answer is quite simple: it's a canard.

Kretschmann does not argue for green policy, he argues only with supposedly 'green' policy. He is a conservative in a practically randomly named party, keeping this label mostly for past brand recognition reasons. A party and PM who forms a coalition government with the conservative party CDU, since the are congruently compatible anyway.

As such he is on record that the proposal:

Prime Minister Winfried Kretschmann has spoken out clearly against the petition for a referendum on the protection of species "Save the bees". "We do not believe that this is possible at all," said the Green politician at the weekly government press conference on Tuesday. Until next week the responsible ministries are to agree on an alternative course.

The petition for a referendum is a real concern, he said. The controversial paragraph 34 of the initiators' draft bill, which calls for a blanket ban on pesticides in protected areas, is, however, unacceptable in its current form. The possibility of exceptions, which is expressly provided for in the proposal of the petition for a referendum, does not change this.

According to Kretschmann, one of the reasons why the government took so long to position itself was because it had to examine whether such exceptions were feasible and practicable. "The interim result is that this is not the case," said the Prime Minister. "This draft law cannot be cured, so to speak, by means of a global exemption regime; this is not possible as things stand and cannot be implemented and does not make sense either."

One third of Baden-Württemberg's agricultural land is located in protected areas, explained Kretschmann. This also included protected landscape areas, which were also subject to the referendum. "This would have dramatic consequences for thousands of organic and conventional farms.

Now realise that for a start organic farming does not use pesticides (in the same way and amount as conventional farming). So basically his main point is that conventional farming would be hit hard by such a ban. And also realise that within nature reserves and protected areas themselves pesticide usage is already a contradictio in adiectio.

It is clear that more organic farming may have numerous downsides (sure to be pointed out in comments) but relevant here is that among the numerous advantages is: the environment would profit from more organic farming, less conventional farming and less pesticide usage? At least that is what Kretschmann likes to point out before dismissing this proposal.

So, until now the support Kretschmann emphasises is for conventional farming businesses. But is this preference for 'ungreen' big business in agriculture his own core constituency? For a large part, it is indeed, since he is a conservative.

But Kretschmann's supposedly 'green' constituency itself has afterthoughts. Meaning for example associations for organic farming. And these are not very 'green' either in their counter arguments.

Bioland regional boss Marcus Arzt and - managing director Christian Eicher turned now even by letter to Prime Minister Winfried Kretschmann (Greens). As the largest organic farming association, they share the objective of effective species protection, but the initiative's draft law lacks "the necessary balance and practicability", says the letter to the SÜDWEST PRESSE. Thus one is "worried that a one-sidedly jumpy increase in supply would have a negative impact on sales opportunities if no comprehensive demand stimulation for domestic organic accompanies the push".

–– Bienen-Initiative stößt auf Bedenken, Schwäbische Tageblatt, 12.07.2019

They say that more organic farming would drive prices und thus profits down? They do!

"50 percent organic farming by law would lead to a ruinous price competition, as we are already experiencing today in parts of conventional agriculture," writes the Green, who up to his election to the Landtag himself had practised biodynamic agriculture according to anthroposophical principles.

That is the green-conservative-conservative coalition: afraid of repercussions from conventional farmers pushed into organic farming (there is also a delay from changing over in methods to increased profits from prices for organic produce to observe), afraid of backlash from general pesticide-friends (eg chemical industry in BW, and even afraid of backlash from existing organic farmers for their fear of their profits.

Within this constellation:

The question assumes a 'text of initiatives must be significant' for a 'Green PM to decline it'. But this is only one factor present, yet that is more minor and not as significant as the basically false assumption that 'Green PM does always green things'.

Expecting green policies from 'Greens' in power is far more often disappointed than over one specific bees-proposal. Kretschmann is PM for Mercedes, Porsche etc, in short far more conservative than anything green. Him accepting the proposal would be the newsworthy thing, man bites dog style. There are countless 'bizarre' examples for allegedly 'green' policies.

In this case, the whole package is good in every fundamental aspect, as he says, but he doesn't want and cannot sell it to his constituencies. If you compare that to the right-wing conservative Bavarian PM endorsing something like a green policy that looks like a contradiction to assumed principles, think of the old Vulcan proverb "Only Nixon could go to China". And likewise in BW: only a 'Green' PM could strike down such a universally popular green policy for "saving the bees".

  • Mercedes and Porsche: as soon as Kretschmann was in power he called the car manufacturers together and gave them a lecture about the usual green stuff, and called on them to make "transport solutions" instead. They just laughed at him. They employ hundreds of thousands of people, and can move their production to Bavaria, or the Czech Republic, in a matter of weeks. He never mentioned it again. – RedSonja Oct 15 '19 at 11:40
  • 1
  • "good in every fundamental aspect" No, actually. I read the small print. It is good for "bio" farmers and the "bio" agri-industry, and is designed to drive the others out of business. – RedSonja Oct 16 '19 at 6:48
  • 1
    @RedSonja I wrote: "Good, as he says". And it is not so small print to conclude that it is 'designed' for others to convert to organic. (That it will drive many out of business is another thing). The point being is that he pays mostly lip-service to green policies, any, then continues to bumble about without pulling any of that through. Staying in power is the only recognisable goal, as most other stated policies are wholly dispensable. – LаngLаngС Oct 16 '19 at 7:33

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .