24 Apr 2024, 12:04
Julian Wettengel

Car toll, higher CO2 price, better public transport to help reach sector's climate targets – report

Clean Energy Wire

With a very ambitious climate policy, the transport sector can be transformed in the long term from the "problem child" of German climate action efforts into one that potentially offsets lagging emission reductions in other sectors, said a report commissioned by the Federal Environment Agency (UBA). A comprehensive package of policy measures could include higher CO2 prices for transport fuels and the introduction of a car toll system independent of the type of engine, said the report by the Institute for Applied Ecology (Öko-Institut). Such pricing instruments would push people to reduce car mileage and – if possible – switch to other means of transport or try to avoid trips. However, to avoid social injustice, the state should redistribute the additional income from the instruments to the population in the form of monetary benefits or support programmes. In addition, public transport would have to be expanded quicker, the report said.

Projections for future emissions published by UBA in March showed that transport is off track to reaching targets, exceeding limits set by Germany's current climate law by around 200 million tonnes of CO2 equivalents in the years until 2030. The lagging progress means that reaching the country’s target of climate neutrality by 2045 is not possible without further measures in the sector, today's report said.

Parliament (Bundestag) is set to decide a long-awaited national climate law reform this week, which would essentially abolish sector-specific annual emissions reduction targets – including for transport. "The reformed climate law reduces the incentive for the German government to reduce emissions in the transport sector," said Peter Kasten, deputy head of resources and mobility at the Öko-Institut. However, EU rules mean that Germany must reach an emissions reduction target for the transport, buildings and agriculture sectors combined. If the country fails to do so, it has to purchase emissions certificates from countries that overachieve. This increases pressure on policymakers to get the transport sector on the right path. "Without political action, we will have to prepare ourselves for expenditure in the double-digit billion range by 2030 through the purchase of emission certificates from other EU countries," Kasten said.

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