09 Sep 2020, 14:31
Benjamin Wehrmann

City of Berlin wrangles over clean mobility concept including combustion engine ban


The government coalition in the City of Berlin has failed to reach an agreement on a new climate action package that would include a ban on cars with fossil-fuelled combustion engines within the next years, public broadcaster rbb24 reports. The coalition between the Social Democrats (SPD), the Greens and the Left Party adjourned its decision on the proposal made by transport and environment senator Regine Günther, a crossbencher selected by the Green Party. According to finance senator Matthias Kollatz (SPD), there are still many open questions regarding a city-toll for cars and also a recent court ruling against so-called "pop-up bike lanes", which were installed during the coronavirus lockdown in order to enable more people to use their bicycles to commute through the city.

A senate member from the right-wing AfD brought a court case against the bike lanes on the grounds that they were installed unlawfully, and won. The case will now be transferred to a higher court, but the senate will need to remove some of the lanes. The debate over a new climate action package was based on the "climate emergency" declared by the city's senate at the end of last year. Apart from the possible ban on certain car models in a "zero emissions zone" in the city centre, it also includes higher parking fees, a change of the city's car fleet to low-emissions vehicles and a compulsory installation of solar panels on new buildings.

The city government of the German capital has set itself climate targets that are more ambitious than Germany’s national targets and joined the list of cities declaring a climate emergency to signal the issue's urgency and possibly fast-track certain aspects of policy. Germany as a whole struggles to reduce its transport emissions, which have remained practically unchanged since 1990, with restrictions on high-emission cars being discussed as one option to simultaneously reduce emissions and air pollution.  

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