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Traffic: Climate goals can only be achieved with drastic reversals


The government is arguing over climate protection targets for transport. More expensive fuel, higher company car taxes, more train transports: Experts call for a radical change. But where exactly should the CO2 savings come from?

Little time? At the end of the text there is a summary.

In the area of ​​transport, Germany should reduce its CO2 emissions by 40 to 42 percent compared with 1990 levels by 2030 - that is the Federal Government's climate protection plan. But how should that succeed? Top politicians wrestle with this question at the invitation of Angela Merkel in the Chancellery. There is considerable potential for conflict - both within the coalition and with citizens across the country and parts of the economy, notably the auto industry.

According to high-profile, the round is occupied. Present are the Federal Ministers for Transport, Environment, Economy, Labor and Finance as well as the leaders of the coalition parties and external traffic experts. There is nothing less to discuss than a revolution in the transport sector within a few years.

According to experts, if the German government wants to reach its climate targets, it must completely change its transport and financial policy. By 2030, up to ten million electric cars would have to be on the road, massively relocated to rail, buses, trains and Promoted cycling and rebuilt the tax system around the traffic.

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This is the result of two studies submitted by the Federation of German Industry (BDI) and the Thinkenank Agora Verkehrswende. They name the instruments that are currently being worked on at the same time by the "National Platform for the Future of Mobility" in the Ministry of Transport.

"All technical levers needed"

Unlike the other sectors, transport has not reduced emissions since 1990, but even increased slightly. However, the planned Climate Change Act states that the sector will emit 50 million fewer greenhouse gases in 2030 than in 2021. Concrete Commission proposals are due to be publicized next week.

What measures are possible, the two reports show. Achieving the climate goals "would require the use of all conceivable technical levers," according to the "Analysis of the Climate Pipe Traffic 2030", which the consulting firm Boston Consulting Group and the consulting firm Prognos have submitted to BDI. Seven million tons would bring about the shift of traffic to the railways, 15 million tons would come from more efficient cars and cars. Whole 32 to 37 million tons would bring the introduction of seven to ten million e-vehicles and three million gas cars. And finally, more biofuel and synthetic fuels could save a maximum of 25 million tonnes.

In concrete terms, this means that by 2030, 35 percent more passenger and 60 percent more goods traffic would have to be shifted to rail than previously planned. The hitherto targeted up to 10 million electric cars faced just 50,000 new e-mobiles in 2018. In terms of the most economically favorable option, however, the climate target would only be reached 5 years later, according to the paper - at least parts of the federal government would then have to grant time delays in climate protection again.

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Consumers should be prepared for price shock

The BDI report only calculates the technical potential and explicitly excludes behavioral changes in traffic: "Sufficiency measures (speed limit, renouncement of mobility) were excluded for reasons of acceptance," it says in a footnote. Therefore, "significant political reversals are required," write reviewers. This could be achieved through a "digitization offensive" and help with the construction of charging infrastructure. Since this is not enough, a significant price shock must be triggered by the end user: For example, by fuel prices that are linked to CO2 emissions and "in the extreme of 2030 could reach a level of up to 250 euros per ton of carbon dioxide."

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Container terminal in Hamburg-Maschen (Symbolbild)

In view of these huge construction sites, "the climate target is only achievable under ideal conditions and using all technically feasible levers," says Holger Lösch, deputy managing director of BDI, who also works in the "National Platform" of the Ministry of Transport.

The proposals of the study "Climate protection in traffic" from the Öko-Institut and the expert panel ICCT are once again a list of atrocities for die-hard drivers. The report also mentions measures that are politically highly controversial: A car toll for all roads would therefore result in 13 million tons of CO2 reduction, an approximation of diesel to gasoline tax 4 million, another company car taxation up to 4 million and a speed limit of 130 km / h on highways at most 2 million tons. However, Transport Minister Andreas Scheuer (CSU) had already rejected proposals for speed limits and higher diesel taxes in January as "against all common sense" before they had even been made official.

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According to the current situation, even 72 million would have to be saved

In a "turnaround kit", the Agora report offers a mix of more efficient engines and higher prices in traffic that planners can use to reduce emissions. If we sum up their various options, a "climate protection bundle" could look like this: 20 cents higher costs per kilometer for truck traffic and two euros more for cars per kilometer; a doubling of cycling and pedestrian traffic, three million e-mobiles, 30 cents higher diesel prices and 36 percent less traffic in the city. All this together would bring the necessary reduction in emissions.

Such measures would probably be unpopular enough. It could be worse. In 2017, CO2 emissions in transport amounted to 167 million tonnes. In order to achieve the 2030 goal, it would not only have to save 50 million tons as planned by law, but 72 million tons.

A little air gives the federal government just calculated a political defeat in Brussels. In December, the EU had tightened the CO2 limits for cars and later also for trucks against German resistance. According to experts, the heavier requirements for car manufacturers for more efficiency and more electric vehicles by 2030 will make for a fair share of the required savings in Germany: about twelve million tonnes of carbon dioxide.

In summary: In its "Climate Protection Plan", the Federal Government has stipulated that CO2 emissions in the transport sector must fall by 40 to 42 percent by 2030 compared to 1990 levels. Two reports have now analyzed that to achieve these goals a serious change in direction is required: higher taxes on fuel, more electric cars, significantly more rail transport and tax incentives for emission-free mobility on a large scale. How the climate goals in the transport sector are to be achieved is regarded as particularly politically and socially controversial in the car country Germany. A further complicating factor is that emissions from passenger car traffic have not dropped recently, but have continued to rise.

Source: spiegel

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