The GRÜNEN are not very optimistic about the upcoming session of the St. Gallen Cantonal Council. The motions of the preliminary advisory committees suggest that environmental policy demands will not be heard by the right-wing majority in the Council.
At the February session of the St. Gallen Cantonal Council, the counter-proposal to the animal suffering initiative, a loan for the replacement of a bridge near Nesslau and the task and financial plan will be discussed. The group of the Greens calls for a greater consideration of environmental concerns in these transactions.
The counter-proposal to the animal suffering initiative threatens to be watered down
In the canton of St.Gallen, dozens of wild animals get caught in fences and die in agony every year. In order to take action against the improper use of barbed wire fences and pasture nets, the St. Gallen hunters’ association and environmental associations have launched the “Stop animal suffering – against fences as death traps for wild animals”. The Cantonal Council spoke out against the request, but gave the government the task of working out a counter-proposal. The government subsequently presented a balanced draft for a partial revision of the hunting law. The initiators have signaled that they would withdraw the initiative in favor of this counter-proposal. The preliminary advisory commission of the cantonal council has now watered this down in one central point: It wants to exempt the entire summer pasture area and thus a considerable part of the canton area from the barbed wire ban. The initiators are indignant about this. If the Council follows the Commission’s proposal, there will be a referendum. The GREEN Group will support the government’s draft. If the weakened version of the preliminary advisory commission wins, the Greens will reject the counter-proposal and support the popular initiative in order to help the legitimate concerns of the initiators to break through.
Luteren bridge: where is the bicycle and pedestrian traffic?
For the replacement of the Luteren Ennetbühl bridge near Nesslau in Toggenburg, the government has applied for a loan of 6.15 million francs from the cantonal council. The construction project presented is disconcerting from the GRÜNEN’s point of view, because it is one-sidedly designed for the interests of motorized traffic and hardly takes the needs of pedestrians and cyclists into account. Although a hiking trail crosses the cantonal road at the bridgehead, neither a pedestrian crossing nor a speed reduction is planned. A cycle lane is also missing on the bridge. This neglected treatment of pedestrian and bicycle traffic by the cantonal civil engineering office is unacceptable and contradicts the canton’s energy and transport policy goals. The promotion of sustainable mobility is once again just lip service. The GRÜNEN therefore oppose the majority of the preliminary advisory commission and request the rejection of the submission to the government with the mandate that the interests of pedestrian and bicycle traffic be adequately considered.
Financial plan: A savings package also harms the environment
The cantonal task and financial plan anticipates deficits in the order of magnitude of 150 to 200 million francs for the years 2022 to 2024. Both the government and the Finance Commission of the Cantonal Council therefore intend to put together an austerity package. For the Greens, however, there is no reason to fall into a hysteria. The figures in the financial plan must be put into perspective for three reasons: First, the forecasts are already outdated due to the additional distributions announced by the National Bank in the meantime. Secondly, experience has shown that the canton’s invoices show a marked improvement in both the financial plan and the budget. Thirdly, the comfortable equity base in the order of 1.5 billion francs makes it possible to compensate for billing deficits over at least five years. From the GRÜNEN’s point of view, this time should be used to implement sustainable measures to increase cost efficiency. It is also important to check measures on the income side. The canton of St.Gallen faces major tasks in the years to come. Efficient administration and investments are required both to cope with the corona crisis and to implement the environmental and climate goals. It is foreseeable that austerity measures would be at the expense of sustainable development in the canton and the environment in particular. The Greens warn against such a short-sighted financial policy.