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27 Nov 2020, 14:20
Charlotte Nijhuis

German mobility far from climate-friendly, car still has central role - study

Clean Energy Wire

Germany still has a long way to go in making mobility more environmentally and climate-friendly, think tank Agora Verkehrswende shows in an analysis of long-term transport data. It found that the passenger car still takes up the central role, whereas small developments, such as the increase in bicycle traffic or the decline in car use among young adults, are hardly significant and not attributable to political initiatives. "We wanted to show that things are already moving forward in some areas, but the sporadic advances are not yet affecting the major trends. The dominance of the private car is unbroken”, says think tank director Christian Hochfeld.

The number of cars registered in the country continues to increase by 500,000 to 700,000 vehicles every year, as especially working people and senior citizens, as well as young people and children as passengers, remain highly reliant on cars. Travel to work and business trips account for around a third of all kilometers traveled in Germany, and more and more people over 65 still have a driving license. Younger generations, on the other hand, are becoming less reliant on cars, and in cities bicycle traffic and use of public transport has increased. However, these changes hardly affect the bigger trend, Agora Verkehrswende concludes. 

To bring about a sustainable change in German mobility, the think tank proposes the privileged status of the passenger car be abolished, for example through a new federal mobility law that puts all modes of transport on equal footing. It also proposes that costs of car traffic – which are now publicly financed – are charged to car users, for example by pricing CO2 emissions and implementing a car toll based on distance travelled. At the same time, public transport services should be significantly expanded and further developed, the think tank says. "We need good mobility for everyone," says Anne Klein-Hitpaß, Project Manager Urban Mobility at Agora Verkehrswende. "That means fast and reliable connections, a high level of comfort, a better quality of life in public spaces, less noise, fewer traffic jams, less risk of accidents, less air pollution, fewer greenhouse gases. If we focus on these goals, the private car will inevitably become less important."

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