Josef Göppel was born on 16 August 1950 on a small farm in the Franconian village of Rauenzell near Ansbach. He grew up with a strong attachment to the land and became a forester. He worked as a forestry engineer for 28 years – mostly outdoors. Göppel is married and has four daughters.
In 1972, he became involved in the local politics of his home region. After eight years in the Bavarian State Parliament, he was elected directly to the German Bundestag in 2002. All his political activities focus on living and working in harmony with nature.
Göppel has been the head of the CSU’s environmental working group since 1991, and has played a significant role in shaping the party’s environmental platform. Within the party, he has a reputation as a sometimes difficult and persistent unconventional thinker. The media regard him as the green conscience of his party.
As a forestry engineer, in 1986 he founded the Land Care Association of Middle Franconia. His aim was to overcome the bitter divisions that existed at that time between environmentalists and farmers. The initiative became a success, and today there are 155 Land Care Associations in 14 German Länder, with equal representation of farmers, conservationists and local politicians. Göppel has been head of the German Association for Landcare since 1993. The network Landcare Europe was founded at EU level in 2016.
In the mid-90s he joined the International Eco-Social Forum and worked on the Global Marshall Plan Initiative.
In 2005 he founded the Renewable Energies Network in the Middle Franconia region together with business representatives, craftspeople and scientists. In 2014 this led to the creation of the Franconia Regional Electricity cooperative, which aims to sell electricity directly to those in the immediate vicinity of the production sites.
He stood firmly by Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel in 2015, when her generous policy of receiving Syrian refugees came under harsh criticism from the CDU and CSU.
A key cross-party initiative in the German Bundestag can be traced back to Göppel: members of government and opposition parties joined forces in the Future Forum on the Environment, where they made the case for more sustainable environmental policies.
In the Bundestag elections, Göppel’s personal votes have far surpassed the second votes for his party every time; in 2013, the figures stood at 53.3 percent to 47.6 percent.
An outsider’s view proves revealing – the following text appeared in the local press after an appearance at the Nürnberger Presseclub:
"Göppel is a true conservative. He wants nothing more than to preserve creation. The CSU Member of the Bundestag approaches politics through the lenses of his Christian faith and his long experience working with nature. He has been known to get on the wrong side of people, whether it be his fellow party members or supporters of conventional growth policies. He was the only member of the CSU to vote against generating electricity from nuclear power in Germany long before the start of the energy transition."
•1972-2004 Herrieden town council
•1974-1994 Middle Franconia District Council
•from 1991 Chairman of the CSU environmental working group
•1986 founded the first Land Care Association
•1994-2002 Bavarian State Parliament
•from 1996 Ansbach county council
•from 2002 German Bundestag