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Berlin: Referendum for more ambitious climate goals failed


For the time being, Berlin is not setting itself any stricter climate targets. In a referendum, the necessary number of votes for a change in the law was missed, as the state election officer announced shortly before the end of the count.

The referendum for more ambitious climate goals in Berlin has failed. The state returning authority announced shortly before the end of the count that the required minimum number of “Yes” votes could no longer be reached. After counting around 98 percent of the votes, the supporters were just ahead of the opponents of such a change in the law. However, this was only one requirement for a successful referendum.

However, the second requirement, an approval rate (quorum) of at least 25 percent of all eligible voters, was not met. Shortly before the end of the count, around 423,000 “yes” votes were opposed to around 405,000 “no” votes. The quorum for a successful referendum was around 608,000 “yes” votes.

Amendment of the state energy transition law sought

The alliance “Klimaneustart” had forced the vote with a four-month collection of signatures in the previous year. If successful, the amended law would have been adopted and entered into force.

With the vote, the alliance wanted to achieve a change in the state energy transition law. Specifically, Berlin should commit itself to becoming climate neutral by 2030 and not by 2045 as previously planned.

Controversial target by 2030

Climate neutrality means that no greenhouse gases are emitted in excess of those absorbed by nature or other sinks. To achieve this, emissions that are harmful to the climate, for example from combustion cars, airplanes, heating systems, power plants or industrial companies, would have to be reduced by around 95 percent compared to 1990. Germany wants to become climate neutral by 2045. The EU has set this as a goal by 2050.

Before the vote, it was disputed whether Berlin could have achieved this goal by 2030. The initiators of the referendum and their supporters, for example in environmental organizations, tenants’ associations, in the cultural scene or also in the Greens and Leftists, affirmed this. The red-green-red Berlin Senate, which was still in office after the repeat election in February, classified the target year 2030 in a statement as unrealistic a.

Referendum on early climate neutrality in Berlin has failed

Tom Schneider, RBB, daily news at 8:00 p.m., March 26, 2023