02 Jul 2021, 13:15
Edgar Meza

Berlin citizens' initiative starts referendum for more climate protection

Der Tagesspiegel

Not satisfied with the Berlin state government’s climate protection targets, a broad-based citizens’ initiative is aiming to mount a referendum to make the German capital carbon neutral by 2030, 20 years earlier than planned, Tagesspiegel reports. The group, Klimaneustart Berlin (Climate Restart Berlin), is seeking a 70 percent reduction in CO2 emissions by 2025 and 95 percent by 2030 compared to 1990 levels. The goal would mean the end of combustion engine cars and a ban on power plants and industrial companies from emitting C02 in just nine years. To that end the group wants mandatory requirements instead of goals; all greenhouse gases to be considered in emission reductions; the inclusion of the BER Airport in the city’s polluter balance sheet; and socially just compensation since the climate crisis is exacerbating existing social injustices. The group, made up of 26 members, including scientists, environmental entrepreneurs and representatives of the Fridays For Future movement, will begin collecting signatures on Saturday for a referendum on more climate action. Klimaneustart argues that the Berlin Senate must do significantly more in order to contribute to the goal of the Paris Agreement of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees compared to pre-industrial levels. The Senate's previous declarations of intent are by no means sufficient, it argues. "The scientific facts leave no doubt: If the aim is to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, the state of Berlin must become climate-neutral well before 2050," says Volker Quaschning, professor of renewable energy systems at Berlin’s University of Applied Sciences (HTW) and a group representative.

Berlin’s centre-left governing coalition, made up of the Social Democrats (SPD), Left Party and Greens, introduced a draft law in April that aims to reduce CO2 emissions by at least 65 percent by 2030 and by at least 95 percent by 2050 at the latest compared to 1990. In June, Berlin lawmakers passed a law making solar PV systems mandatory on privately owned residential and non-residential buildings. The city is also aiming to transform its vehicle fleet to CO2-free cars by 2030. In order to hold a referendum, the group will have to first collect 20,000 signatures. If successful, the matter goes to the House of Representatives, which can take action.

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