Germany needs drastic rise in fuel prices to meet climate targets, environment agency paper says
A position paper by Germany's environment agency UBA calls for a drastic increase in fuel prices in order to bring about emissions reductions needed in the transport sector to help meet climate targets. The internal UBA paper, which was obtained by the Süddeutsche Zeitung, says that the price for one litre of petrol should increase by 47 euro cents and for diesel fuel by 70 percent per litre, correspondent Michael Bauchmüller writes. The average petrol price in Germany in 2019 was around 1.43 euros and the average diesel price around 1.26 euros, according to statistics website Statista. Moreover, the UBA paper says that the current commuter allowance should be abolished and a general speed limit on highways set at 120 kilometres per hour. The paper also calls for "social hardships" resulting from higher prices to be compensated. According to Bauchmüller, the German environment ministry (BMU), to which the UBA belongs, decided not to publish the paper that was compiled in the run-up to Germany’s recently agreed climate package, as fuel prices were regarded as the transport ministry's (BMVI) responsibility.
Environment minister Svenja Schulze told the Passauer Neue Presse that higher prices could not be introduced "without social compensation." However, she also argued that a speed limit on highways "is free of charge." Schulze stressed that the government's climate package has an inbuilt monitoring mechanism that would allow for the adjustment of particular policies later on, should the desired emissions reduction not set in.
Transport minister Andreas Scheuer said the "balanced" climate package would now be implemented, the newspaper Tagesspiegel reports. He said the UBA's paper proposes "abstinence, prohibition and price increases”, which can cause people to "panic" and "is the wrong approach."
Emissions in Germany's transport sector are particularly hard to tackle and have remained almost unchanged since 1990, as progress in engine efficiency has been largely outweighed by growing traffic volumes and heavier vehicles. The sector emitted over 160 million tonnes of CO2 in 2018 and is supposed to sink below 100 million tonnes by 2030.