22 Feb 2023, 13:52
Carolina Kyllmann

Alliance believes in ‘Berlin 2030 climate neutral’ referendum success despite little political support

Clean Energy Wire

The initiators of an upcoming referendum on committing the German capital Berlin to 2030 climate neutrality have expressed confidence the vote will be successful, despite a lack of political support. With a view to the referendum on 26 March, spokesperson of initiative Klimaneustart, Michaela Zimmermann, said the necessary technologies to achieve climate neutrality in the city-state in as little as seven years were available, adding that “what is missing is the political will.” But all political parties in the city’s parliament, including the Greens, have rejected the petition. The senate’s official statement argues that the goal is unrealistic and adds that “Berlin cannot decouple itself from [Germany and the EU’s] goals to the extent that it can single-handedly become climate neutral 15 or 20 years earlier.” However, in the run-up to the city’s repeat election, the Green Party's top candidate Bettina Jarasch said she would vote “yes”.

Campaign initiators argue that more than 100 European cities – including capitals such as Paris, Warsaw, Stockholm, Helsinki and Rome – have joined an EU initiative to start on the path towards 2030 climate neutrality. Making the case that the goal is not out of reach, head of Energy Watch Group Hans-Josef Fell said that close cooperation with Berlin’s neighbouring state of Brandenburg would be needed to expand renewable energy. Additionally, Berlin would need to better insulate its buildings, expand public transport and ensure streets, car parks and facades are covered with photovoltaic (PV) modules.

The referendum can only be successful if at least 25 percent of eligible voters participate. If a majority voted in favour, the state’s energy transition law would be amended to force it to reduce its emissions by 95 percent by 2030 compared to 1990 levels, instead of by 2045 as is currently designated. The Klimaneustart alliance, comprised of around 50 civil society organisations and initiatives, had collected over 261,000 signatures to force a referendum on the issue.

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