Themes: Environment
11. January 2017

New sustainability strategy paper omits transport

Pro-Rail Alliance criticises government’s line on mobility: dishonest and fainthearted

17 goals: With its sustainability strategy, the German government wants to take on global responsibility. On transport issues, it is fainthearted and dishonest.
Brave new sustainability world: in its recently agreed strategy, the German government does not seriously address the issue of environmentally friendly, socially acceptable transport.

Berlin, January 11 2017. The German Pro-Rail Alliance has reacted with disbelief to the government’s new sustainability strategy, which was recently approved by the cabinet. “In the government’s strategy paper on sustainability, the only mention of the forecasted growth in the volume of freight transport as an issue requiring political action is found in the form of keywords,” criticised Dirk Flege, managing director of the Pro-Rail Alliance, on Wednesday in Berlin. “Instead of coming up with a serious strategy for increasing sustainability in the transport sector’s biggest problem areas, the government has removed significant indicators without comment,” complained Flege. “The government has missed all its previous targets, so it obviously did not want to admit to the failure of its transport policies in its latest paper.” The federal government has stealthily moved its targets on land use forward by ten years, and offers absolutely no orientation on traffic safety or noise levels.

Climate protection not possible without transport modal shift

“The climate issues in the transport sector are like millstones around the necks of policy makers,” said Flege. “Whereas sectors such as industry, energy production and trade have all substantially reduced their emissions, the German transport sector emits the same volume of greenhouse gases as in 1990 – and the trend is increasing.” An agenda for shifting transport onto more environmentally friendly transport modes “should not be missing from any serious sustainability strategy.” Flege referred to the now impressive achievements resulting from the ambitious modal shift policies in Switzerland and Austria, and called for more honesty and commitment from Germany. “Government commitment to strengthening the railways exists only on paper. At the same time, it is allowing mega-cheap, longer HGVs to operate on the roads and has reduced road charges on HGVs. Unfortunately, this latest sustainability strategy proves that transport politicians want one thing above all else: to just carry on as usual. “

Sustainability strategy: traffic safety and noise omitted completely, land usage targets domesticated

Two of the transport sectors biggest problems are missing from the new sustainability strategy: noise and traffic safety “On road accident fatalities, the government had actually set an ambitious target of cutting the number of casualties by 40 percent by 2020,” said Flege, with reference to the ‘Federal State Index Mobility’, which clearly models the key transport policies of the federal states. “There is a threat that the government will significantly miss its targets on traffic safety, which now no longer appear in the sustainability strategy paper.” On land usage, the government has silently diluted its target to reduce the area of land being used up for housing and transport to 30 hectares per day by 2020. “In its new sustainability strategy, the government is now giving itself ten years more time,” criticised Flege. “This paper provides absolutely no orientation. On the contrary, it is an invitation for business as usual.”

The only transport sector indicator: final energy consumption

The only indicator for the transport sector referred to in the sustainability strategy paper is found in the strategy paper’s diagrams, in the form of ‘dark cloud’ status symbols. However, for the German government, this does not have any consequences. “The final energy consumption of domestic transport, as a measure for the whole transport sector, is generally suitable as a key index figure,” said Flege, “but even here the federal government is selling us old wine in new wineskins. Just how the federal government intends to meet the targets that it already set itself in its 2010 energy concept paper is not revealed in its new strategy paper on sustainability,” said Flege. “It may be thicker than the old one, but there is less in it.”


Additional information:

The federal government’s sustainability strategy paper: PDF download (German)

The biggest problems in transport: Federal State Index Mobility (German)