With warnings about driving bans for combustion engines, Transport Minister Volker Wissing and Finance Minister Christian Lindner (both FDP) have increased the pressure on the traffic light partners SPD and the Greens to reform the climate protection law. FDP leader Lindner appealed to the Greens on Saturday not to block the reform of the climate protection law. If the Greens do not give up their blockade, “draconian restrictions on freedom up to and including bans on driving combustion engines” would be conceivable in Germany, he said. Wissing had previously warned in a letter to the parliamentary group leaders about cuts for drivers and even driving bans. On Monday, a council of experts on climate issues will present its assessment of German greenhouse gas emissions.

The climate protection law once introduced by the CDU is “deeply planned economy,” said Lindner on Saturday at the state party conference of the North Rhine-Westphalia FDP in Duisburg. He spoke of “dramatic restrictions on freedom”. The Greens should not jeopardize the acceptance of climate protection. The current law could also lead to the federal government being sued because “unattainable goals in the field of transport are missed.” But one “cannot conjure up the fact that five million new electric vehicles will suddenly be registered”.

Law regulates Germany’s binding climate protection goals

Germany’s climate protection goals are bindingly regulated in the law. The current version stipulates that greenhouse gas emissions will be reduced by 65 percent by 2030 compared to 1990. Permissible annual emission levels have been set for individual sectors such as industry, energy, transport and buildings. The key point so far is the following mechanism: If sectors fail to meet the requirements, the responsible federal government departments have to take action with emergency programs.

The reform agreed in the cabinet, on the other hand, stipulates that compliance with climate targets will no longer be monitored retroactively by sector, but rather will be aimed at the future, over several years and across sectors. Environmental groups are calling for the law to be weakened.

Last year, the transport and building sectors missed the permitted annual emission levels. Next Monday, a council of experts on climate issues will present its assessment of the data. The responsible ministry must then submit an immediate program for the respective sector within three months – i.e. by July 15th. If the amended Climate Protection Act has not come into force by then, around 22 million tonnes of so-called CO2 equivalents would have to be saved on an ad hoc basis for transport alone. According to Wissing, this is only possible through the weekend driving bans.

Greens: The problem is transport policy

Green politicians and associations accused Wissing of diversionary tactics and scaremongering. The North Rhine-Westphalian Transport Minister and chairman of the Transport Ministers’ Conference, Oliver Krischer (Greens), told the German Press Agency that, despite all understanding of political escalation, it would be appropriate for Wissing to return to factual politics. “The problem is not the federal climate protection law, but a transport policy that is not aligned with the goals of climate protection and sustainability.”

Krischer said that there were numerous transport policy measures on the table that would contribute to improving mobility as well as achieving climate protection goals. “Instead of threatening people, we would like to talk to Mr. Wissing at the transport ministers’ conference next week about how we can finance the maintenance and expansion of the infrastructure.” The Transport Ministers’ Conference will meet next Wednesday and Thursday in Münster. An important topic is the future of the Deutschlandticket in local and regional transport.

Claudia Kemfert from the German Institute for Economic Research (DIW) spoke of scaremongering. It is overdue for more climate protection to be implemented in the transport sector, she told the Funke media group. German Environmental Aid accused Wissing of painting a bogeyman on the wall in order to prevent action.