Transport Minister Threatens Germans With "Indefinite Weekend Driving Ban" To Meet Mandated Emissions Targets

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by Tyler Durden
Tuesday, Apr 16, 2024 - 10:30 AM


This story has even made it into the Anglophone press, so you know it’s a big deal:German transport minister warns of weekend driving ban,” says The Telegraph. “German minister threatens ‘indefinite driving bans’ on weekends,” proclaims Politico. “German transport minister under fire for weekend driving ban threat,” declares Reuters.

Volker Wissing does not really want to ban driving.

But no, despite the headlines, they are not going to take away our cars.

Amazingly, not even the Greens want to do that. For once the story is not about German authoritarianism, or woke insanity or anything like that.

Rather, it’s about how nobody can really bring himself to care about the climate anymore – not even our forward-thinking, progressively minded, environmentally responsible political establishment.

For the backstory, we must go all the way back to the pre-Covid era, when aggressive climate legislation was popular even with centre-right CDU voters, and before the electorate had a taste of what Green policies like the draconian home heating ordinances really feel like on the ground.

Back in those halcyon days, when the child saint Greta Thunberg was cutting class to save the earth, Angela Merkel’s government passed the Climate Protection Act. The law mandates a 65% reduction in CO2 emissions compared to 1990 levels by 2030, an 88% reduction by 2040, and an utterly unrealisable carbon neutrality by 2045. In the near term, the Climate Protection Act also establishes maximum annual emissions levels for various economic sectors. Should a given sector exceed its maximum, the responsible Ministry must submit an ominous “action programme” to bring things back on target.

The Climate Protection Act is archetypal climate nonsense. Politicians like to take credit for Doing Something about the climate, but because Doing Something amounts to massive economic restrictions and drastic interventions in daily life, they would prefer not to Do that Something themselves. Far better is to pass legislation committing future governments to Do Something and let them deal with the mess. Then you can reap the short-term rewards of being tough on carbon emissions, without bearing direct responsibility for all the chaos that actually being tough on carbon emissions would unleash. Alas, time marches forwards at a steady pace. I am sure that 2030 sounded like an unimaginably distant date when it was floated at the Paris Accords in 2015, but now it is a mere six years away. That is becoming a big, big problem for the climatists.

You could say that Merkel’s Climate Protection Act bequeathed the hapless Scholz government a small collection of ticking time bombs, which they’ve developed a considerable interest in defusing. One way to do this, is to revise the Climate Protection Act and remove its strict sector-based emissions limits before anybody is forced to field a climate-saving “action programme.” In the meantime, they’ve been studiously ignoring the requirements, which is why our Minister of Economic Destruction Robert Habeck could be found complaining back in June that no cabinet ministers were complying with Climate Protection Act emissions limits.

The fly in the ointment is the Green Party, who are as crazy as their oblivious out-of-touch upper middle-class urbanite constituents, and who have thought it best to block government efforts to (however temporarily) defang Merkel’s odious law.

In a fit of frustration, the liberal Transport Minister Volker Wissing therefore warned that if no Climate Protection Act reforms were possible, he might be forced to impose “drastic interventions” on motorists:

In the dispute over a reform of the Climate Protection Act, Federal Transport Minister Volker Wissing (FDP) has warned of drastic cuts for motorists – including weekend driving bans. This is according to a letter from Wissing to the heads of the SPD, Green and FDP parliamentary factions. It was made available to the Deutsche Presse-Agentur on Thursday …

The letter states that if the amended Climate Protection Act does not come into force before 15 July, the ministry will be obliged under the current law to present an action programme to ensure compliance with the annual emission levels for the transport sector in the coming years.

And just like that, the climatists are falling all over themselves to reassure Germans that no, don’t worry, driving is fine, nobody wants to take away your cars:

The Federal Environmental Agency believes [driving bans are] unnecessary. “Of course we don’t need driving bans. Nobody is even discussing such a ban; this is frightening people for no reason,” said [Green-affiliated] President Dirk Messner. Instead, he once again suggested a general speed limit on German motorways …

There is more, there is always more:

The SPD also criticised the proposal: “Scaremongering with far-fetched proposals won’t help climate protection in the transport sector at all, quite the contrary,” SPD Bundestag faction leader Detlef Müller said … “The proposal does not further our common goal of reducing CO2 emissions, but to unnecessary uncertainty for people in our country.” The SPD Bundestag faction clearly rejects driving bans for cars and lorries. Such manoeuvres would hardly advance the ongoing deliberations on the Climate Protection Act in the Bundestag, said Müller.

I like this paragraph so much that I’ve read it five times.

It’s just so entertaining to read some right-thinking lunatic like Müller insisting up and down that literally banning driving “does not further our common goal of reducing CO2 emissions.”

Along with the Green Party and Greenpeace, the environmental organisation BUND has also criticised Wissing’s statements on the threat of driving bans. BUND transport expert Jens Hilgenberg said:

“It fits the picture that this minister, of all people, who blocks every measure, no matter how easy to implement, such as a speed limit on motorways, is now playing on people’s fears.”

He is only doing so to further increase the pressure on the coalition partners, Hilgenberg says. “This is a shabby tactic.”

We must add avoiding political suicide to the long and growing list of things – from the rights of Palestinians to the threat posed by “disinformation” to third-world poverty – that are more important than climate change. This is becoming a very long list indeed.

So what are the solutions, if we’re not going to ban driving on weekends, and the Greens insist on blocking reforms to the Climate Protection Act? Well, aside from the speed limit, which has the same attraction for the left in Germany as banning guns does for the left in the United States (and about equal chances of achieving any of the stated goals), the experts have nothing but the same tired nostrums: We need more public transit! We need more electromobility! We need more expansions to the electric vehicle charging networks! The problem is not only that none of this amounts to an “action programme” to sink vehicle emissions posthaste; it is also that there is no money for any of this. Electric vehicle subsidies have been withdrawn since the courts blew a 60 billion dollar hole in the government’s budget. Far from expanding public transit, we’re fighting to maintain the decaying rail network we already have. And nobody believes that more charging stations will save the planet.

This is late-stage climatism and it will linger for a long time.

There await years if not decades of haggling over the ambitious goals set by past governments, years of fig leafs and excuses, years of relaxing restrictions in elaborate ways so we can pretend we’re still doing something.

It is going to be very tedious, but also, I suspect, occasionally entertaining.