Saturday June 10, 2023

Berlin votes on whether capital should become climate neutral by 2030

Published : 26 Mar 2023, 21:16

  DF News Desk
Eligible voters cast their ballots in a polling station at the Peter Edel Education and Cultural Center in Berlin-Weissensee. Photo: Joerg Carstensen/dpa.

Voters in Berlin were heading to the polls on Sunday to decide whether they want the city to become climate neutral by 2030 and not by 2045 as previously planned, reported dpa.

For this to be written into law, a majority of voters must vote yes, as well as meeting a hurdle of at least 25% of those eligible to vote. That is around 608,000 Yes votes.

The outcome was set to be tight, and by midday on Sunday just 11% of eligible voters in Berlin had cast a ballot.

"Voting in the 2,208 Berlin polling stations has been quiet so far - no special incidents have been reported," the state election administration announced.

Polling stations opened at 8 am (0600 GMT), with some 2.4 million people eligible to vote in the referendum on more stringent emission targets. They were due to close at 6 pm, after which the votes were to be counted.

The Klimaneustart (climate reset) environmental group forced the plebiscite after collecting some 260,000 signatures over a four-month period last year. The activists want to put pressure on the state government to speed up climate change measures in the capital.

At a national level, Germany's government wants to achieve climate neutrality - all greenhouse gas emissions compensated for by absorption - by 2045.

To achieve this, emissions would have to be reduced by some 95% compared to 1990 levels.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Berlin Mayor Franziska Giffey have expressed scepticism about the 2030 goal.

"I am firmly convinced that what the federal government has set out to do is exactly the right way, namely, to ensure that we modernize our country technologically," Scholz said on Saturday.

Berlin Mayor Giffey put it in blunt terms on Friday: "We see it as important that the issue is taken forward, but it will not be possible for Berlin to be climate neutral by 2030. People have to be told this clearly; everything else is nonsense."