Germany may OUTLAW private vehicles on weekends as climate insanity leads to infrastructure suicide
04/16/2024 // Cassie B. // Views

German Transport Minister Volker Wissing has come under fire after saying the country may need to implement a ban on driving on weekends during the summer if reforms to their controversial Climate Protection Act are not passed by July.

Germany's transportation sector has been struggling to meet its client targets, even as they managed to bring their greenhouse emissions down to their lowest level in 70 years last year. The country's climate protection law dictates that sectors that are underperforming in this regard must take steps to get back on track toward meeting the goals.

The German transport ministry said that it will be more difficult to reform their sector than other parts of the nation's economy because it is difficult for people to make significant changes when it comes to transportation in a short period of time.

Wissing said that if incoming amendments to the law – which would permit the transport sector to miss some of its carbon dioxide reduction targets as long as the country meets its overall emissions target – are not approved soon, the ministry will be forced to enforce a ban on driving on weekends.

In a letter to parliamentary leaders, he added: “The fact that the amendment is still not in force leads to considerable legal and factual uncertainties. This serves neither the climate nor the reputation of the federal government.”

Therefore, he said it may be necessary to adopt measures that will be unpopular among the German population.

"A corresponding reduction in traffic performance would only be possible through restrictive measures that are difficult to communicate to the population, such as nationwide and indefinite driving bans on Saturdays and Sundays.”

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Coalition partners and environmental groups alike accused the minister of scaremongering. A group of environmental organizations, including Fridays for Future, the German Federation for the Environment and Nature Conservation BUND, and Greenpeace said that abolishing targets for individual sectors will obscure the impact of those that have an outsized influence, especially traffic, which often fails to meet its goals.

The transport ministry clarified that the letter was not a threat. Instead, it was an effort to highlight the dangers of failing to reach an agreement on the amendment.

Transport minister accused of scaremongering

Green Party parliamentary leader Katharina Droege said that the minister should be making reasonable suggestions for protecting the climate in the transport sector rather than stirring up “unfounded fears.”

Detlef Mueller, the deputy parliamentary leader of the Social Democrats party, said that these comments will not help the negotiations on the amendments, noting: "Scaremongering through absurd proposals does not help climate protection in the transport sector at all, on the contrary."

Green Party leader Julia Verlinder suggested a different tact, telling the German Press Agency that a speed limit could serve to tackle climate issues. The topic has long been the subject of controversy in Germany, and Wissing said earlier this month that they did not intend to introduce a speed limit on highways.

Others sided with Wissing, however, with Finance Minister Christian Lindner warning on X: "The climate protection law of the previous government could soon lead to driving bans!"

The country has also seen a dramatic drop in new electric car registrations as sales of these vehicles dropped 30% year over year. The government aims to have 15 million electric cars on the road by 2030, and there are currently just 1.4 million, demonstrating the reluctance among consumers to change their behaviors to align with government climate initiatives.

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