Citizens of Berlin, Germany Sunday voted in a referendum to amend the Berlin Climate Protection and Energy Transition Act. However, the amendment was rejected as not enough voters supported the proposal to bring forward Berlin’s climate neutrality deadline to 2030.
In order for the proposal to succeed, a majority of voters had to vote in its favor. Additionally, a turnout of at least 25 percent of all eligible voters was required. While a majority vote was achieved, the 25 percent quorum was not achieved.
The referendum was pushed through by a civil society movement called the “Klimaneustart” alliance. Berlin currently aims for a 95 percent reduction in net carbon dioxide emissions by 2045. Klimaneustart activists pointed out that this aim is not in line with the objectives of the Paris Agreement, an international agreement to limit global warming to 1.5 percent. Its primary objective is for Berlin to become climate-neutral by 2030 and not, as previously planned, by 2045. But in order for Berlin to achieve that goal, Berlin’s energy transition law must be amended. This would have placed a legally binding target on the city’s government to achieve climate neutrality within seven years.
However, many members of Berlin’s state Parliament are of the opinion that seven years is an unrealistic timeframe within which to make a full transition to renewable energy. They argue that the lack of accessible renewable energy resources in Berlin would make it difficult to achieve the legally binding deadline. This is reflected in the city’s mayor Franziska Giffey statement on Twitter that the referendum’s failure shows “that the majority of Berliners see that the demands could not have been implemented.”
Luisa Neubauer, a prominent climate activist, was disheartened by the outcome, noting that there was “a majority for Berlin #2030 and still it is not enough.” Neubauer said, “We are fighting uphill, but we continue to fight.”