The referendum for more ambitious climate goals in Berlin has failed. The state returning authority announced on Sunday evening shortly before the end of the count that the required minimum number of yes votes could no longer be reached. An alliance "climate restart" wanted to achieve a change in the state energy transition law with the vote. Specifically, Berlin should commit itself to becoming climate neutral by 2030 and not by 2045 as previously planned.
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 only fulfilled 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, there were around 423,000 yes votes versus around 405,000 no votes. The quorum for a successful referendum was around 608,000 yes votes. 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.
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 wants to be there 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 that will be replaced, classified the target year 2030 as unrealistic in a statement.
Nevertheless, Berlin would not have been alone with a stricter climate target. According to the German Zero association, around 70 cities in Germany are aiming to become climate-neutral by 2035 at the latest. At the European level, the EU Commission is supporting 100 municipalities that will take part in the "EU Mission for Climate-Neutral and Smart Cities" by 2030.