German minister threatens "indefinite driving bans" on weekends to meet climate goals
ยท Apr 16, 2024 ยท

While this may not be the absolute worst threat that has come out of Germany, it's still not great.

The federal coalition government, which includes the Social Democrats, Greens, and Free Democrats, has been clashing for months over several issues like a payment card for refugees, Germany's debt rules, elephant trophy-hunting imports, and their precious Climate Protection Act.

Germany's transport minister is now threatening to ban weekend driving to meet climate goals if the ruling coalition doesn't pass changes to the Climate Protection Act by July.

The liberal politician Volker Wissing wrote a letter to the coalition's parliamentary group leaders, as reported by the German outlet BILD last week.

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.

Wissing says that achieving climate goals by reducing traffic would require implementing measures that are difficult to explain to the public, like "comprehensive and indefinite driving bans on Saturdays and Sundays."

The proposed change to the emissions-reduction law would assess climate goals by considering all sectors collectively rather than separately. If the overarching target is missed for two consecutive years, the federal government would then determine which sector and measures would be used to reach the permitted total carbon dioxide emissions by 2030.

Suppose the parliament does not pass the changes by July 15. In that case, the Ministry for Digital and Transport will be forced to implement an "immediate action program that ensures compliance with the annual emission levels of the transport sector" until 2030.

That would include a driving ban on weekends.

Greenpeace, the German Federation for the Environment and Nature Conservation BUND, and Fridays for Future are criticizing the proposal to scrap specific targets for each individual sector. They're worried that lumping everything together might hide the problems in certain areas, especially transportation, which often falls short of its targets.

Reacting to Wissing's driving ban, Green parliamentary group leader Julia Verlinden says, "This claim is simply wrong."

She also says that Wissing shouldn't unnecessarily upset people, as there are other approaches to addressing climate concerns, like implementing a speed limit (which is apparently another touchy subject).

More than half of the highways in Germany have no speed limit. Earlier this month, Wissing stressed that the German government isn't looking to implement a speed limit on highways.

The FDP, the right-wing Alternative for Germany, and the conservative Christian Democratic Union have condemned the driving ban.

Clara Thompson, Greenpeace mobility expert, told the German press that Wissing is "shamelessly" trying to distract from his failures.

Wissing has wasted two years blocking every climate protection measure in road traffic โ€” now he is coming up with horror scenarios so that he won't have to do anything in the future either.

Imagine driving to work all week and then not being allowed to go where you want and enjoy your life on the weekends!

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