German transport policy has consistently favored motorism
Germany, like the rest of Europe, has a transport sector where CO2 emissions are steadily rising and where politicians and authorities do not seem to be able to come together to do something about it.
Germany’s great love relationship with motorists and the automotive industry since World War II is reflected in a unique distortion of costs in the transport sector. The railways are disadvantaged, pay a green fee, pay high infrastructure charges and only recently have VAT been reduced.
The automotive industry has been able to rely on politicians to be friendly and compliant, so even moderate EU political ambitions on CO2 emissions reductions have been delayed – and covered by fraud cases. And the industry has automatically been forgiven.
A policy paper from Germanwatch by Lena Donat explains very well these circumstances. The report points to the following solutions:
- Short term: Stop public investment on new federal highways, additional highway lanes, highway-like roads and bypasses
- Prioritise railway infrastructure, both regional and long-distance, especially projects that are key for implementing the nationwide integrated regular interval timetable (‘Deutschland-Takt’) and cross-boundary connections
- Revise Federal Transport Infrastructure Plan, and undertake a 1.5°C check. Include reduction of road passenger and freight transport as a strategic target in of the Plan
- Plan infrastructure based on coordinated timetable intervals (‘fahrplanorientierte Infrastrukturplanung’