In a referendum in Berlin on Sunday, a majority said no to making the city so-called climate-neutral as early as 2030. Voters thought the proposal was unrealistic and would require far too large changes in a short time.

Germany already has an official goal of becoming climate neutral by 2045, which will require huge changes and restructuring in virtually all sectors of society.

This was still not enough for the climate movement and a demand was raised that Berlin should speed up this process significantly. Instead, it should become climate neutral by 2030, in just under 7 years.

For such a proposal to pass, it would require approval through a referendum among Berlin’s 4 million residents.

Reuters says that this referendum was carried out this Sunday. It did not go quite as the climate movement and their political parties had hoped. The proposal was quickly voted down.

In order for it to be adopted, approx. 608,000 Yes votes are needed. As of Sunday evening, there were no more than approx. 440,000 who had voted Yes to the far-reaching proposal.

It was not enough to have a majority among the votes cast, they also need to have a minimum number of votes in favour of the proposal. This way, it is ensured that a relatively small committed group cannot push through a drastic proposal, while a large majority sit uninterested on the sofa and refrain from voting.

A referendum in Berlin on Sunday, which would have committed the city to become climate neutral by 2030, has rejected the proposal, the city’s mayor Franziska Giffey said in a statement.

The measure would have forced the new conservative local authorities to invest heavily in renewable energy, the energy efficiency of buildings and into public transport.

Had the proposal gone through, Berlin would have been one of the few major European cities with a legally binding goal of becoming carbon neutral in seven years, writes Reuters (translated by Document).

The referendum was seen as a test of whether the Germans, particularly Berliners, want Germany’s climate policy to be more ambitious than it already is. To that the answer was no.

The result shows that the people see such targets as unrealistic, even if it should have been enshrined in law, says mayor Franziska Giffey

According to Reuters, the climate activists believe that the vote has been positive in any case, as it has highlighted the problem of speeding up these goals.

Others will think that it has proved that drastic climate policy does not have the support in the population that the politicians often claim.

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