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15 Apr 2021, 14:13
Sören Amelang

German civil society alliance calls for just and climate-friendly mobility transition

Clean Energy Wire

A broad alliance of labour unions, environmental and social organisations, as well as the protestant church, has called on the German government to speed up the transition to a climate-friendly and socially just mobility system. “It's possible to protect the climate and significantly improve the quality of life of millions of citizens at the same time," the organisations said in a press release. The shift to a clean transport sector is long overdue; key for employees in the mobility industry, and can serve the needs of all citizens in both cities and the countryside regardless of age, income, or health, they said. 

The organisations' alliance for a socially just mobility transition says it wants to prevent further divisions in society over the issue. In a paper, they argue that new infrastructure for walking and cycling, as well as improved and affordable public transport systems, must form the backbone of a new mobility system. "Climate-damaging subsidies have to abolished, taxes must be reformed, and existing financial means need to be redistributed according to sustainability criteria," the paper says. It also calls for a rapid reduction of noise and harmful emissions. To avoid social hardships resulting from the transition in the car industry and keep it competitive at the same time, the authors call for regional development policies, comprehensive training initiatives and a forward-looking industrial policy. The shift will also require a "cultural change that assigns a smaller role to the car." The paper says large scale investments – many of which can be financed by redirecting current subsidies – are urgently necessary to trigger the shift. "Forgoing these investments now will be much more expensive for future generations," it states.

Germany's large car industry, which directly employs more than 800,000 people, makes the country’s transport transition particularly controversial. In contrast to a rapidly growing number of other countries, Germany has not set a phase-out date for conventional cars. But the path towards climate-friendly mobility could become an important topic during the country's election campaign this year, and is set to become a priority for the next government given the new, more ambitious climate targets.

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