Germany election: Green party hoping to make gains after deadly floods make environment a key issue

Europe Editor James Mates reports on Germany's Greens having the chance to shape future policy

With just days to go until Germany's election, it is clear there is a new key issue voters are interested in.

On July 14, Germans woke to discover that climate change is not just something that happens to other countries.

More than 180 people lost their lives to severe flooding and the clean up of towns continues today.

Volunteers help clean up in the town of Ahrweiler

Hundreds of volunteers were working in the western town of Ahrweiler on Wednesday, helping to repair what nature destroyed.

One volunteer, Simon Hoppen, has had a wake up call.

“We have to change, no question," he admitted.

When asked whether this will change politics in the country, he simply said: “I hope so.”

More than two months after the deadly floods, damage remains in Ahrweiler. Credit: ITV News

The focus on environmentalism will benefit one party only, the German Green party.

Although they are not expected to gain a majority, they may be likely to join a future coalition.

Germany's Green party leader Annalena Baerbock

If the polls are to be believed the Greens are on course to nearly double their 2017 vote share of 8.4%.Speaking to her supporters, Green party leader Annalena Baerbock insisted on environmental policy change within the EU.

“We are the biggest and strongest country in the EU but we are currently the ones blocking Europe’s green new deal, that has to change," she said.

Damage caused by the floods in the centre of Ahrweiler remains more than two months after the devastating floods hit. Credit: ITV News

Angela Merkel's imminent retirement from front-line politics means Sunday's national elections will be the first for 16 years without her quietly formidable figure at the helm.

Almost a whole generation has grown up under her leadership since the former chemist took office in November 2005.

And Germany could be on the brink of major political change as there is a possibility her party could be driven into opposition as the centre-left Social Democrats (SPD), led by Finance Minister Olaf Scholz, lead the polls for the first time in more than a decade.