01 Mar 2021, 14:00
Benjamin Wehrmann

German SPD’s climate-heavy election programme includes Autobahn speed limit

Clean Energy Wire / Handelsblatt

The Social Democratic Party (SPD) has compiled a first draft of its election programme that puts great emphasis on climate action as the "challenge of the century." In the draft seen by Clean Energy Wire, the SPD says it will support controversial climate action measures like a general speed limit on German motorways, an idea that has so far been considered a no-go for most politicians and was mainly propagated by the Green Party. "We will introduce a speed limit of 130 kilometres per hour on the Autobahn. This protects the environment and greatly reduces the number of accidents," the smaller coalition partner in Germany's government together with Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative CDU/CSU alliance writes. The aim is to establish "Europe's most modern and climate-friendly transport sector" by 2030 by expanding public transport services and financially supporting e-car charging infrastructure, the draft says. The SPD also stresses its determination to lead the country into a climate-neutral economy by the middle of the century and still keep Germany a major economic power. "Our industry will still be a global leader in 2050 because it produces in a carbon-neutral manner and exports technologies that the world of tomorrow needs," the draft says. The party also says it wants to achieve a 100-percent share of renewables in the power sector by 2040, a goal for which key decisions must be made in the 2020s. The SPD further says it wants to do away with Germany's renewables surcharge, the EEG levy, which customers pay with their power bill, by 2025 and fund renewables expansion through the federal budget, including the revenues from carbon pricing, which Germany introduced for the heating and transport sectors this year.

The SPD leadership plans to present the draft later on Monday (1 March). A final version will then be decided at a party conference in May. Representatives of the opposition parties criticised the SPD's proposed programme as an obvious attempt to lure voters from the Green Party, which has gained significantly in polls since the last election at a time when environmental challenges top the list of many voters' priorities. Proposing viable ideas for emissions reduction has therefore become a key topic for almost every party competing in the general election on 26 September. "The more the SPD tries to copy the Greens, the more irrelevant it becomes," Volker Wissing, secretary general of the pro-business party FDP, told newspaper Handelsblatt. Thomas Bareiß, CDU state secretry in the economy ministry, said a general speed limit on motorways "today doesn't make sense neither from a road safety nor from a climate policy perspective," arguing the SPD was turning into a "prohibition party."

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