AGI Profiles: Philipp Nimmermann

Aaron Wheeler

Halle Foundation/AGI Intern

Aaron Wheeler is a research intern at AGI for the summer of 2023. He assists resident fellows with their research projects, manages databases, and helps organize and document events.

Mr. Wheeler is currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree in International Politics at Georgetown University’s Walsh School of Foreign Service. He is also pursuing minors in German and History. He is concentrating his studies on issues related to immigration and climate change policy within the European Union. He is also interested in transatlantic security and trade policy.

Mr. Wheeler completed his first two years of undergraduate school at the University of Pittsburgh before transferring to Georgetown, where he pursued a double major in Political Science and German with a certificate in European Union Studies.

State Secretary at the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Action

Dr. Philipp Nimmermann currently serves as the State Secretary for Energy in the Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Action. Minister Robert Habeck named Dr. Nimmermann to the position on May 22, 2023, following the abrupt departure of Dr. Patrick Graichen, who previously held the position. Dr. Nimmermann will leave his position as State Secretary for Economy, Energy, Transport, and Housing in the central German state of Hesse.

Background and Education

Born in Berlin, Dr. Philipp Nimmermann completed his high school diploma at Bettinaschule Gymnasium in Frankfurt am Main. He studied economics at the Johann Wolfgang Goethe University in Frankfurt, earning his degree in 1992. During the academic year of 1989-1990, he traveled to England where he was a visiting student at the University of Sussex. From 1993-1999, he continued his academics at Goethe University in Frankfurt, where he pursued his doctoral studies. In two stints, one from 1993-1996, the other from 1996-1999, Dr. Nimmermann worked as a research associate for the chair of economic political sciences at Goethe University Frankfurt. From 1996-1997, he traveled to South America, where he did research stays at universities in Córdoba (Argentina), São Paulo (Brazil), and Santiago (Chile). In January 1999, he earned his doctorate in the field of economics from Goethe University Frankfurt.


To begin his career, Dr. Nimmermann became an economist (and later senior economist) at BHF-BANK AG in Frankfurt, a position he held from 1999 until 2006. Staying at BHF, he then shifted to the position of senior strategist in the business development department and in the currency department in the financial markets division. In 2010, he again switched roles at BHF, becoming the head of the business development department in the financial markets division, head of the financial markets research department in 2011, and chief economist in 2013.

Dr. Nimmermann then began his life in public service, becoming a State Secretary in the Finance Ministry for Schleswig-Holstein. He held this position from 2014-2019, and during this time, he was also active on different supervisory boards, especially that of HSH Nordbank. In 2019, he returned south, where he became the State Secretary for Economy, Energy, Transport, and Housing in the state of Hesse. He held this position until 2023 when he was promoted to the federal government.

A Scandal-Ridden Predecessor

Dr. Nimmermann replaces Dr. Patrick Graichen, who held the position of State Secretary at the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Action (BMWK), from December 15, 2021, to May 17, 2023. Dr. Graichen, a member of the Green Party, had previously worked at Agora Energiewende, a Berlin-based think tank supporting the transition to renewable energy sources. His removal from the BMWK came after recent questionable nepotism incidents that will inevitably define his seventeen-month tenure. Recently, Dr. Graichen was placed on a committee tasked with staffing the state-owned German Energy Agency (dena), which nominated Michael Schäfer for the position. Weeks later, it was discovered that Schäfer was the best man at Dr. Graichen’s wedding. Dr. Graichen admitted that he should have withdrawn from the selection committee, and Minister Habeck deemed the incident a mistake.

In late 2022, Dr. Graichen approved €600,000 in government funds to BUND Berlin, an environmental organization where his sister was on the board. An internal investigation determined that this act violated compliance procedures, forcing Habeck to let Graichen go. Minister Habeck, whose reputation has taken a substantial hit amid Graichen’s transgressions, referred to this final incident as, “one mistake too many.” Opposition parties in the Bundestag, chiefly the CSU-CDU party, have used the incident to attack the Green Party’s integrity as a whole. Habeck and the Green Party are confident that Dr. Nimmermann will serve his duties well—and hopeful that he can salvage the party’s reputation.

A Busy Future

Dr. Nimmermann’s clean portfolio with no incidents of corruption or misbehavior is crucial—Habeck wishes to erase Graichen’s wrongdoings from the German memory as completely and swiftly as he can. Following the Graichen scandal, half of Germans want Habeck to step down, a late-May poll found. The Greens have also taken a hit, falling from an approval rating of 23 percent in July 2022 to 14 percent in July 2023. In late April this year, the Greens were surpassed by Germany’s far-right party, the AfD, who now lead the Greens by four percentage points. Dr. Nimmermann will be an integral piece in Habeck and the Green Party’s endeavors to make a comeback in the polls and resecure Germans’ trust.

At the economics ministry, Dr. Nimmermann will oversee Division II, which covers heating, hydrogen, and efficiency, and Division III, which covers electricity. Additionally, he is in charge of Subdivision KA (fundamental issues), Subdivision KB (national and European climate politics), Subdivision WE B (energy security), and Subdivision WE-U (implementation and management of defense screen and oil-crisis precaution).

Dr. Nimmermann will immediately be tasked with helping lead and organize the German government’s Energiewende, a colossal initiative to transition Germany’s energy to clean and renewable sources. He will also be given significant control over the construction of LNG (liquid natural gas) terminals, which Germany hopes will be a sufficient alternative to Russian energy. At the forefront of the Energiewende sits the coalition government’s controversial decision to make the switch to renewable energy for heating German homes. Minister Habeck has noted that Dr. Nimmermann will play a crucial role in galvanizing support for the new climate action measures, as well as organizing its logistics. As Germans grapple with energy security and climate change, Dr. Nimmermann will be instrumental in initiating political change that helps both Germans and people around the globe.

The views expressed are those of the author(s) alone. They do not necessarily reflect the views of the American-German Institute.