Climate action: Transport sector must do an immediate about-face

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If Germany wants to live up to the requirements of the Paris Climate Agreement, its transport sector must quickly and drastically cut its greenhouse gas emissions. A recently published paper commissioned by the German Environment Agency confirms this conclusion and proposes concrete measures by which emissions can be reduced significantly and ensure that the climate action goals are achieved.

Mobility is one of the major emitters of greenhouse gases in Germany. The analysis paper formulates the need for action over the next few years to ensure adequate protection of the climate and to align the developments in the transport sector with the requirements of the Paris Climate Agreement and the Federal Government's Climate Action Plan 2050.

The key options for action:

  • Strict legal framework for more efficiency in new vehicles: further development of ambitious CO2 targets in the EU for the passenger car and heavy goods vehicle fleet based on realistic driving cycles
  • Increase support for electromobility, e.g. by introducing obligatory quotas for electric cars
  • Expand a sustainable transport infrastructure (local public transport, cycle tracks)
  • Phase out environmentally harmful subsidies like the tax breaks for diesel fuel
  • Introduce a distance-based toll for all road vehicles

The Paris Agreement aims at limiting the increase of the earth's average temperatures to well under 2°C and to permit only zero emissions in the long term. By 2030 Germany must make cuts in the emissions from most of the economy's sectors. However, this urgent need for action is not reflected in the goals defined in either the national climate action plan or in European climate and energy policies. In other words, Germany and the EU must clearly step up their climate action efforts. The transport sector will also have to make its contribution. The climate change targets in the Paris Agreement are both necessary and right, and the instruments are available to achieve them – they must be now be introduced and implemented with conviction.