Climate neutral in just 8 years? Berlin petition surpasses signature goal
Berlin Klimaneustart climate petition surpasses signature goal
After four months of collecting signatures in every corner of Berlin, the Klimaneustart campaign to hold a referendum on making the German city climate neutral by 2030 has now surpassed its signature goal.
1.000 signature collectors in red vests, which have now become recognisable to many Berliners, managed to gather a total of 261.968 signatures over the four months. In order to officially hold the referendum, the campaign needed to secure at least 175.000 valid signatures. Only those who are registered (Angemeldet) at an address in Berlin and have German citizenship can offer a valid signature.
20 percent of people who live in Berlin do not hold a German passport. And as is the case with many city-wide referendums, locals want to offer their support to the cause, even if they know their signature is not officially valid. For this reason, the Klimaneustart campaign had an aim to secure 240.000 signatures, calculating that around a quarter would be classified as invalid. Authorities in Berlin are now in the process of checking the validity of signatures. A verdict must be delivered by November 29, 2022.
Another hurdle that the campaign has to overcome is that among the valid signatures, at least 7 percent of Berliners eligible to vote in parliamentary elections must be represented.
When would the Berlin climate referendum be held?
If, at the end of the month, it is declared that the campaign has collected the necessary number of valid signatures, a Berlin-wide referendum must be held. Given the Berlin constitutional court decision to rerun the city’s 2021 elections, local elections will be rerun on February 12, 2023, and it is likely that the Klimaneustart referendum would be held on the same day.
Alternatively, the referendum could be added to ballot papers for the day when Berliners return to the polls to recast their votes for the 2021 federal election, though a date for this has not yet been set. Just as only registered residents of Berlin with German citizenship were able to sign the petition, only this group will be able to vote in the referendum when it is held.
How would Berlin become climate neutral by 2030?
Enshrined in Germany's Klimaschutzgesetz (Climate Protection Law) is the country’s aim to become climate neutral by 2045. The Klimaneustart campaign points out that this aim is not in line with the goals of the Paris Agreement, to limit global overheating to 1,5 degrees in order to avoid life-threatening climate tipping points.
The Klimaneustart campaign acknowledges that this is a mammoth task that would involve revolutionising the way of life in the German city and in its KlimaStadtplan Maßnahmen (Climate City Plan Measures) the campaign lays out what steps should be taken to reach climate neutrality. The measures include using energy from renewables to power public transport systems and heat housing in the city, reducing livestock and expanding organic farming to minimise CO2 emissions produced by the agriculture industry.
Thumb image credit: (C) Klimaneustart