17 Oct 2023, 13:35
Edgar Meza

German govt agrees "green mobility update" in decarbonisation push for transport sector

Süddeutsche Zeitung / Tagesspiegel Background

Germany’s governing coalition of the Social Democrats (SPD), the Greens and the Free Democrats (FDP), has - after long negotiations - agreed on a far-reaching transport policy reform for the country. The plan has been dubbed as a "green mobility update" by the Green Party's parliamentary faction and will allow the country's transport sector transition "a huge step forward," according to Tagesspiegel Background. The reform will expand railway infrastructure, introduce a CO2 surcharge that increases tolls for truck transport, and support solar power installations along motorways, Sueddeutsche Zeitung reports. A key area of the coalition plan is to reduce bureaucracy and accelerate approval processes for the transport sector, particularly for rail, but also motorway, projects. Part of that effort will see 100 billion euros slated for some 312 rail projects with a total length of 4,500 kilometres,  Tagesspiegel Background reported. A large part of the additional investment funds will come from the increased truck toll, which is expected to generate billions of euros to be used for the first time to finance much needed railway renovations throughout the country.

Germany’s rail network is partly dilapidated, resulting in train cancellations and delays. From the summer of 2024 until 2030, heavily used routes are to be completely renovated. The truck toll, which is to be increased to 200 euros per tonne of CO2 and set to go into force in December, is also aimed at incentivising and accelerating the shift to cleaner trucks. At the same time, the government is increasing funding for electric trucks. The Greens and the pro-business FDP also resolved their dispute over the expansion of motorways, with the coalition agreeing on a final list of expansions – a move criticised by Greenpeace Germany: "Every additional kilometre of motorway destroys nature, causes even more traffic jams and wastes many millions of taxpayers' money on wrong transport projects," mobility expert Lena Donat said. "It is shocking that the SPD and the Greens could not or would not stop the FDP's 70s motorway policy." The coalition parties also agreed that every available area on motorways is to be used for solar power generation in the future. The expansion of railway in particular is seen as a necessary requirement to achieve Germany’s ambitious 2030 climate targets.

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