05 Nov 2021, 13:37
Sören Amelang

Germany's environment agency calls for doubling CO2 price to lower transport emissions

Clean Energy Wire / dpa

Germany should kickstart the transition to a sustainable transport system with a range of drastic policies, the country's environment agency (UBA) has said. These include increasing petrol prices, abolishing tax breaks for commuters, upgrading public transport, introducing a general speed limit, and many others. "The transport sector is heading in the wrong direction when it comes to climate protection," agency head Dirk Messner told newswire dpa, adding that much more effective policies were necessary. UBA said Germany's CO2 price for transport and heating should be at least twice as high next year as the currently planned 30 euros per tonne, which adds around 9 cents to the price of a litre of petrol and diesel. "Even if the petrol prices are very high at present, they don't tell the ecological truth," Messner said. To avoid social hardships, the government should use the additional receipts to lower electricity prices and support climate-friendly propulsion systems, he added. 

Emissions in Germany's transport sector have remained broadly stable over the past decades, as the effects of more efficient engines have been eaten up by an increasing number of cars and the trend towards heavier vehicles. The agency warned that emissions in Germany's transport sector would exceed climate targets by 28 million tonnes in 2025 and by 41 million tonnes in 2030 without additional steps. UBA also proposed a gradual reduction of tax breaks for diesel and company cars, and a toll system for car use on all roads from about 2030 to encourage shorter trips and alternative means of transport.

Car driver association ADAC warned the agency's suggestions to make driving cars more expensive undermined peoples' trust in climate action measures. "If political decisions are not reliable, but rather tightened up even before they become effective, the confidence of the population sinks massively,” it said. Environment state secretary Jochen Flasbart also said that "UBA is focussed too much on achieving a transport transition by making car usage more expensive." He added: "In the meantime, however, it is much more about good climate-compatible transport options, mobility promises, safety and quality, and a modern road traffic law." In contrast, environmental NGO Greenpeace said "UBA is stating the obvious: Only by turning many screws at once can the transport sector make up its climate lag."  

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