Environment: The climate referendum in Berlin has failed

Climate referendum in Berlin has failed

Election workers sit in front of a ballot box in a polling station in Berlin-Weissensee. photo

© Joerg Carstensen/dpa

For the time being, Berlin is not setting itself any stricter climate targets. In a referendum, the necessary number of votes for a change in the law was missed.

The referendum for more ambitious climate goals in Berlin has failed. The state election authority announced that the required minimum number of yes votes could no longer be reached.

An alliance “climate restart” wanted to achieve a change in the state energy transition law with the vote. Specifically, Berlin should commit itself to becoming climate neutral by 2030 and not by 2045 as previously planned.

Narrow majority for “Climate neutrality 2030”

In the Berlin climate referendum, 50.9 percent of voters voted yes – that was 442,210 votes. 48.7 percent (423,418) voted no. This emerges from the numbers of the state election authority on the Internet. Around 8:51 p.m., all 3103 polling stations were counted. In order to decide on stricter climate targets, at least 25 percent of those entitled to vote would have voted in favor. This would have required around 608,000 yes votes.

The alliance “Klimaneustart” had forced the vote with a four-month collection of signatures in the previous year. If successful, the amended law would have been adopted and entered into force.

Climate neutrality means that no greenhouse gases are emitted in excess of those absorbed by nature or other sinks. To achieve this, emissions that are harmful to the climate, for example from combustion cars, airplanes, heating systems, power plants or industrial companies, would have to be reduced by around 95 percent compared to 1990. Germany wants to become climate neutral by 2045. The EU wants to be there by 2050.

Before the vote, it was disputed whether Berlin could have achieved this goal by 2030. The initiators of the referendum and their supporters, for example in environmental organizations, tenants’ associations, in the cultural scene or also in the Greens and Leftists, affirmed that will be replaced, classified the target year 2030 as unrealistic in a statement.

Nevertheless, Berlin would not have been alone with a stricter climate target. According to the German Zero association, around 70 cities in Germany are aiming to become climate-neutral by 2035 at the latest. At the European level, the EU Commission is supporting 100 municipalities that will take part in the “EU Mission for Climate-Neutral and Smart Cities” by 2030.

Future coalition: central fight against climate change

Despite the failure, the foreseeable capital city coalition of CDU and SPD wants to make the fight against climate change a central point of their work. Berlin’s governing mayor Franziska Giffey called this one of “our central political tasks”. “We are aware of the urgency, even if the referendum has not received the necessary approval,” emphasized Giffey. The state of Berlin remains committed to the Paris climate protection agreement. “We are working to ensure that Berlin becomes a climate-neutral city as quickly as possible before 2045.”

Secretary General Stefan Evers said for the Berlin CDU: “Berlin says yes to climate protection – but no to false promises. Berliners know that the climate would not be helped with unrealistic goals or unaffordable laws.” Decisive action is important in order to achieve “our nationwide, most ambitious climate goals” as quickly as possible.

After the repeat election, the CDU and SPD are negotiating a government alliance for the capital. Both parties have already announced that they intend to spend at least five billion euros on more climate protection in the city in the coming years.


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