Belgium, (Brussels Morning Newspaper) Berliners voted against plans to make the city carbon neutral by 2030 in a referendum on Sunday.
The European Commission launched a scheme last year to provide financial support to cities in exchange for reaching carbon neutrality by 2030, which Mayor Franziska Giffey noted that the residents rejected, according to Reuters reported on Sunday.
The body noted in April that 100 cities from all EU member states and 12 non-EU countries would take part in the initiative and stressed the importance of supporting local authorities in pursuit of more ambitious environmental targets.
If the measure passed, the local government would have to invest in energy efficiency, renewables and public transport with the aim of lowering CO2 emissions.
Giffey noted that results show “the majority of Berliners also see that the demands of the referendum could not have been implemented – not even if they were cast into law.”
Since Germany plans to become carbon neutral by 2045, the referendum was a test of Berliners’ willingness to adopt more ambitious environmental targets.
Activists not happy
According to climate activists who initiated the vote, the government is not ambitious enough in its fight against global warming. “At the moment, climate policy is simply not sufficient to ensure a future worth living in our city,” noted activist Jessamine Davis of Climate New Start Berlin.
While previous referendums, including the call for the expropriation of large landlords and preventing the development of the defunct Berlin Tempelhof Airport, were not binding, the one on new environmental targets could have been.
In order to become binding, the initiative needed at least 608,000 votes in favor, but the count on Sunday evening showed fewer than 441,000 positive votes.
Bernd Hirschl, head of climate and energy at the Institute for Ecological Economy Research, pointed out that Berlin has too few renewable energy sources nearby to achieve the target.
He expressed the belief that the referendum helped to revive the discussion on environmental policy and changes that residents will have to accept to reach climate targets.
“It’s not about 2030… it’s about the question of whether we want to send a signal to politicians or not,” he concluded.