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Jürgen Trittin

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Jürgen Trittin
Trittin in January 2013
Leader of Alliance '90/The Greens in the Bundestag
In office
6 October 2009 – 8 October 2013
Serving with Renate Künast
Chief WhipVolker Beck
Preceded byFritz Kuhn
Succeeded byAnton Hofreiter
Minister of the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety
In office
27 October 1998 – 22 November 2005
ChancellorGerhard Schröder
Preceded byAngela Merkel
Succeeded bySigmar Gabriel
Leader of the Alliance '90/The Greens
In office
3 December 1994 – 27 September 1998
Serving with Krista Sager and Gunda Röstel
Preceded byLudger Volmer
Succeeded byAntje Radcke
Minister of Federal and European Affairs of Lower Saxony
In office
21 June 1990 – 20 June 1994
Minister PresidentGerhard Schröder
Preceded byHeinrich Jürgens
Succeeded byHeidrun Merk
Member of the Bundestag
Lower Saxony
In office
27 September 1998 – 31 December 2023
ConstituencyAlliance '90/The Greens List
Member of the Landtag of Lower Saxony
In office
13 May 1994 – 25 January 1995
ConstituencyAlliance '90/The Greens List
In office
5 June 1985 – 13 May 1990
ConstituencyThe Greens List
Personal details
Born (1954-07-25) 25 July 1954 (age 69)
Bremen, West Germany
Political partyAlliance 90/The Greens
Alma materUniversity of Göttingen

Jürgen Trittin (born 25 July 1954) is a German Green politician[1][2] who served as Minister for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety in the government of Chancellor Gerhard Schröder from 1998 to 2005.

Early life and education[edit]

Trittin was born in Bremen, as son of Helene and Klaus Trittin. He earned a university degree in social economy in Göttingen and worked as journalist.

Political career[edit]

Early beginnings[edit]

Trittin's political career started in 1982 as Secretary of the Alternative-Greens-Initiative List (AGIL) Group in the Göttingen City Council (until 1984). From 1984 to 1985, he worked as press spokesman for the Green Party's group in the Lower Saxony State Assembly, which he joined in 1985 as member of the state parliament.

Career in state politics, 1990–1998[edit]

From 1990 to 1994, Trittin was the Minister for Federal and European Affairs in a coalition government with the SPD, led by Minister-President of Lower Saxony Gerhard Schröder (SPD). In his capacity as minister, he also served as the Head of the Lower Saxony State Mission to the Federal Government in Bonn.

After Schröder's SPD won an absolute majority in the state elections in 1994, the coalition with the Greens was ended. Trittin subsequently served as Member of the Lower Saxony State Assembly and as Deputy Chairman of the Alliance 90/The Greens group in that parliament.

Also in 1994, Trittin was elected spokesman (chairman) of the national Green Party, serving alongside Krista Sager (1994–1996) and later Gunda Röstel (1996–1998).

Minister for the Environment, 1998–2005[edit]

In the federal red–green coalition, the federal red–green coalition government under Chancellor Gerhard Schröder, Trittin was appointed Federal Minister for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety, a role which he held from October 1998 until the Grand Coalition under Chancellor Angela Merkel took power in 2005.

In his capacity as minister, Trittin was responsible for the decision to abandon the use of nuclear power by 2020, called the nuclear power phase-out (see Nuclear power in Germany). He also pushed the 2000 Renewable Energy Act through parliament. He was appointed Federal Minister for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety under Chancellor Gerhard Schröder, a role which he held from October 1998 until the Grand coalition under Chancellor Angela Merkel took power in 2005. In this position he was responsible for the decision to abandon the use of nuclear power by 2020, called the nuclear power phase-out (see Nuclear power in Germany).

Member of the German Parliament, 1998–2023[edit]

In the 1998 national elections, Trittin was elected as Member of the German Bundestag. Upon entering parliament, he discontinued his work as party chairman, because its statutes did not allow concurrently being a member of parliament and a member of the party executive.

Jürgen Trittin in 2008

After having lost against Fritz Kuhn in the vote on the Green Party's parliamentary group leadership in 2005, Trittin served as vice-chairman group in charge of foreign, security and European policy from 2005 to 2009.[3]

Alongside Renate Künast, Trittin led the Green Party's campaign for the 2009 elections. In the following years, both chaired the party's parliamentary group. In addition, Trittin served as alternate member of the Committee on Foreign Affairs.

For the 2013 elections, the Greens under lead candidates Trittin and Katrin Göring-Eckardt centered their campaign on a call for tax increases for the wealthy, a strategy that many in the party later blamed for its losses in the polls.[4] As part of the campaign, Trittin strengthened his profile as foreign policy expert by making a five-day trip to the United States in May 2013, including meetings with United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and officials from the International Monetary Fund.[5]

Following his party's defeat in the elections, Trittin became a member of the Committee on Foreign Affairs and of the German delegation to the NATO Parliamentary Assembly. He also served as deputy chairman of the German-Russian Parliamentary Friendship Group and of the German-Iranian Parliamentary Friendship Group.

In late 2015, Trittin was named co-chairman (alongside Ole von Beust and Matthias Platzeck) of a government-appointed commission tasked with recommending by early 2016 how to safeguard the funding of fulfilling Germany's exit from nuclear energy.[6] By April 2016, the commission agreed to ask the power firms to pay €23.3 billion ($26.4 billion) into a state fund to cover the costs of nuclear waste storage.[7]

In the negotiations to form a so-called traffic light coalition of the Social Democratic Party (SPD), the Green Party and the Free Democratic Party (FDP) following the 2021 federal elections, Trittin was part of his party's delegation in the working group on climate protection and energy policy, co-chaired by Matthias Miersch, Oliver Krischer and Lukas Köhler.[8]

In December 2023, Trittin announced that he would not stand in the 2025 federal elections but instead resign from active politics by the end of the year.[9] He was replced in the Bundestag by Ottmar von Holtz.[10]

Political positions[edit]

Human rights[edit]

In August 2012, Trittin was one of 124 members of the Bundestag to sign a letter that was sent to the Russian ambassador to Germany, Vladimir Grinin, expressing concern over the trial against the three members of Pussy Riot. "Being held in detention for months and the threat of lengthy punishment are draconian and disproportionate," the lawmakers said in the letter. "In a secular and pluralist state, peaceful artistic acts – even if they can be seen as provocative – must not lead to the accusation of serious criminal acts that lead to lengthy prison terms."[11][12]

Environment policy[edit]

At the time of Hurricane Katrina in August/September 2005, Trittin wrote an opinion piece in the newspaper Frankfurter Rundschau associating the US failure to sign the Kyoto protocol with the hurricane and its devastation.

In August 2005, Trittin responded to a question on how best to react to the 2005 petrol prices crisis with "leave the car at home from time to time." The media, in particular the Bild newspaper, attacked these comments.


In 1981, Trittin approved an election platform for the Alternative Green Initiative List, a precursor of the Green Party, which called for the legalization of sexual relations between adults and minors.[13]

Already by 1999, shortly after Gerhard Schröder's coalition government, Trittin told Stern magazine that "Red-Green as a reform project is dead," adding that he saw the Social Democrats as virtually indistinguishable now from the Christian Democrats of former Chancellor Helmut Kohl. He added that the Greens might even consider future political alliances with the Christian Democrats.[14]

In 2001, Trittin compared a prominent Christian Democrat, Laurenz Meyer, to a "skinhead" for declaring that he was proud to be a German. A vigorous debate on the legitimacy of German patriotism has ensued, with most Germans appearing sharply critical of Trittin. The minister justified his remark by noting that extreme-right parties in Germany often use the badge, "I am proud to be a German." However, Trittin came under considerable pressure to quit after making the remark and was openly reprimanded by Chancellor Gerhard Schröder. The Greens' voting results subsequently fell significantly – to 7.8 percent, from 12.1 percent in the 1996 state election, in Baden-Württemberg, and to 5.3 percent, from 6.9 percent, in Rhineland-Palatinate.[15]

In 2010, Trittin attended an event to commemorate the thirtieth anniversary of the Free Republic of Wendland in Hannover where someone threw a pie at him during a panel discussion.[16]

Other activities[edit]

Corporate boards[edit]

  • KfW, ex-officio Member of the Board of Supervisory Directors (1998–2005)

Non-profit organizations[edit]

Selected publications[edit]

  • Trittin, Jürgen; Eid, Uschi; Müller-Kraenner, Sascha; Greger, Nika (October 2001). From Rio to Johannesburg: Contributions to the Globalization of Sustainability (PDF). Berlin, Germany: Heinrich Böll Foundation. Retrieved 28 June 2016.


  1. ^ "Jürgen Trittin: "Den Hitler im Bunker könnte ich auch"". Tagesspiegel. 5 July 2012. Retrieved 30 May 2012.
  2. ^ "Greek bankruptcy worse than Lehman, says Trittin". Austrian Independent. 13 September 2011. Archived from the original on 9 November 2014. Retrieved 30 May 2012.
  3. ^ The Euro and its Geostrategic Dimension, a lecture by Juergen Trittin, 6 May 2013 Harvard Kennedy School.
  4. ^ Patrick Donahue (7 October 2013), Merkel’s Flirtation With Greens Raises Pressure on SPD Bloomberg News.
  5. ^ Stefan Nicola and Brian Parkin (30 April 2013), German Greens Chief Trittin Says Merkel’s Policy Bars Coalition Bloomberg News.
  6. ^ John O'Donnell and Christoph Steitz (29 November 2015), Minister signals German trust could handle nuclear waste storage Reuters.
  7. ^ Markus Wacket and Christoph Steitz (27 April 2016), German firms could pay less than feared for nuclear clean-up Reuters.
  8. ^ Britt-Marie Lakämper (21 October 2021), SPD, Grüne, FDP: Diese Politiker verhandeln die Ampel-Koalition Westdeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung.
  9. ^ Marina Kormbaki (12 December 2023), Jürgen Trittin zieht sich aus der Politik zurück: »Ich werde ein bisschen reisen, Clash und Talking Heads hören« Der Spiegel.
  10. ^ Sayram, Iris. "Trittin verlässt den Bundestag: Abschied von DJ Dosenpfand". tagesschau.de (in German). Retrieved 3 January 2024.
  11. ^ Henry Meyer (8 August 2012), Madonna Urges Freedom for Anti-Putin Punk Girls at Concert Bloomberg News.
  12. ^ Appell aus dem Bundestag: Deutsche Abgeordnete fordern Milde für Pussy Riot Spiegel Online, 7 August 2012.
  13. ^ Spiegel-Online from 16 September 2013 "Old Document Haunts Green Party Candidate"
  14. ^ Roger Cohen (22 March 1999), German Reds and Greens Get the Blues The New York Times.
  15. ^ Roger Cohen (26 March 2001), German Regional Elections Are Encouraging to Both Sides The New York Times.
  16. ^ Spiegel-Online from 23 September 2010: "Trittin verzichtet auf Anzeige"
  17. ^ Advisory Council German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP).
  18. ^ Organization German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP).
  19. ^ Mitglieder des Kuratoriums der Stiftung „Fonds zur Finanzierung der kerntechnischen Entsorgung“ benannt Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy, press release of 12 March 2017.

External links[edit]