Why should I open a pump?
In the meantime, fair calculation has become a method in German climate policy. For example: A triumphant advance of electric cars that never came; super efficient engines that were only so efficient in the lab; clean fuels of the second, third and umpteenth generation that have never been able to establish themselves on the market. Many a federal government declared war on climate-damaging emissions in traffic, only one thing never changed: climate-damaging emissions in traffic.
Now the Federal Environment Agency has calculated in its own sobriety how the huge climate gap in traffic can be filled. What good would a speed limit? What about a rising mineral oil tax? How much do the CO₂ targets for cars and trucks that Brussels has imposed save? How much truck traffic can be avoided if the toll increases? What effect would the abolition of subsidies have for company cars, diesel and commuters? The result is not surprising, but it still scares many: You don't need a little subsidy here and a little CO₂ price there, but an offensive on all fronts. If climate protection is to succeed in Germany, the automotive state, fundamental changes also have to be made at the petrol pump.
So far, the country has afforded an absurd juxtaposition of declared climate protection on the one hand and incentives that have the opposite effect. This includes, for example, the company car privilege with which companies buy cars for employees and often also pay for fuel costs: it invites you to drive a lot. The commuter allowance brings the most to those who have to travel long distances to work with high salaries - and on top of that, it favors urban sprawl. The tax-reduced diesel makes it attractive to transport goods by road and not by rail, for example. And the current staggering of the truck toll ensures that goods are transported with many, many toll-free 3.5-ton trucks - instead of a few larger trucks. The mineral oil tax has fallen in real terms in recent years and not increased - inflation made sure of that. Because it has not been increased for 16 years.
The government tolerates false incentives after false incentives: why emissions in traffic stagnate instead of falling is not that difficult to explain.
These pumps will never go away the gentle way
Of course there is now an outcry across the country. A diesel surcharge of up to 70 cents is difficult to cope with for most motorists, even more so than a speed limit. Everyone can quickly work out what that means. It is therefore crucial how additional burdens are flanked. The income from a drastic increase in energy taxes, for example, could be repaid to the citizens. If everyone is involved in equal parts, those who use little energy - because they drive small, economical cars or have switched to buses and trains - even have a bottom-line gain. The omission of the flat-rate distance allowance can be offset by higher flat-rate advertising costs. Higher toll revenues can help promote alternatives, from overhead lines on highways to freight railways.
Climate protection that nobody is aware of - it won't work. The fireworks of innovations that Transport Minister Andreas Scheuer likes to refer to will only burn down if there are incentives for it. When the course is set in such a way that the alternatives are worthwhile. When the federal, state and local governments work hard on public offers that can replace the car, even on a large scale.
But it all starts with honesty towards the citizen. The cosmetics of numbers that are always new and ultimately inadequate climate plans have outlived themselves. And yes, consistent climate policy means unreasonable demands, especially at the petrol pump. But these pumps will never go away the gentle way.
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