27 Mar 2023, 13:44
Sören Amelang

Berlin’s referendum on climate neutrality by 2030 fails

Clean Energy Wire

A referendum in Berlin on making the German capital climate neutral by 2030 failed to garner sufficient support. Only around 442,000 people voted in favour of the initiative, which would have needed more than 600,000 “Yes” votes to be successful, the city’s electoral commissioner said. While 50.9 percent of participants voted in favour of tightening climate action, supporter turnout only amounted to about 18 percent of the electorate, short of the 25 percent that would have been necessary to enforce the binding law changes.

Berlin is aiming to become climate neutral in 2045, just like Germany as a whole. The referendum aimed to pull the target forward to 2030 – a target that even many supporters of the vote considered unrealistic, given the city’s heavy reliance on fossil fuel transport and heating. The result "shows that the majority of Berliners also see that the demands of the referendum could not have been implemented — not even if they were cast into law," said the city's outgoing mayor Franziska Giffey, a Social Democrat (SPD), according to a Deutsche Welle report. Conservative (CDU) lawmaker Stefan Evers said the result showed that "Berlin says yes to climate protection — but says no to false promises." 

Following recent elections, the SPD and CDU are currently in negotiations to set up a new city-state coalition government. They announced an early policy proposal for special funding of at least €5 billion for climate protection. In a commentary for local newspaper Tagesspiegel, Daniel Böldt argues this funding commitment can be considered the “saving grace” for the referendum’s initiators. “Without them, the special fund would probably not have existed. With their unrealistic legislative proposal, they will at least have helped to comply with the existing climate protection law.”

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