The Chancellor is responsible for the traffic turnaround

Traffic in Munich

Olaf Scholz is taking the traffic turnaround into his own hands: at the car summit, he declares the mobility turnaround to be a top priority.

(Photo: dpa)

Berlin The first car summit of the traffic light coalition brought new insight: With the meeting of the “Strategy Platform for the Transformation of the Automobile and Mobility Industry” in the Chancellery, responsibility now lies with Olaf Scholz. The Chancellor has inevitably declared the traffic turnaround to be a top priority. It is up to him to bring together the many loose threads within the federal government and to show the way in mobility policy.

This knowledge may be tenuous. But the chancellor’s decision is correct – and it requires consequences. The car bosses, works councils and trade unionists already experienced the confusion at the first summit meeting: Transport Minister Volker Wissing did not speak passionately. It was Economics and Climate Minister Robert Habeck and Environment Minister Steffi Lemke. They have to explain to their green clientele why Transport Minister Volker Wissing is breaking the climate protection law and, despite all the assurances, there is still no immediate program to achieve the climate goals.

For a year now, the Greens and FDP have been grappling with the question of how to proceed with the decarbonization of the transport sector. Sometimes they argue about the end of combustion engines and synthetic fuels, charging stations or – as is currently the case – about faster planning and approval processes to maintain and expand infrastructure.

The “progress coalition” lacks the framework with which it wants to modernize the country. To date, Scholz has not managed to reach an agreement on faster procedures in confidential meetings with the transport minister, climate minister and environment minister. When, if not in the second year of government, is a coalition able to make uncomfortable decisions?

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However, the coalition does not decide, although there is enough knowledge. Above all, the 800,000 employees in the automotive industry are unsettled, who – politically decided – are to give up their world market leadership in combustion engines in Europe and assert themselves in the new market of electromobility. Soon no one will be asking for proven skills in the value chain, completely different talents are required for them. Anyone who does not qualify again has to fear for their job.

Olaf Scholz (SPD), Federal Chancellor, at the cabinet meeting

There have been many conflicts between the ministers responsible for the mobility transition, but now Scholz wants to act himself.

(Photo: IMAGO/photothek)

The manufacturers themselves have to deal with new supply chains and wonder how all the rare earths for the batteries can be reliably sourced.

Consumers are also waiting for perspectives: Should they buy an electric car – or would they rather continue to use petrol or diesel until 2035? In the logic of the government to put 15 million electric vehicles on the road by 2030, the answer should be: “Help us and buy a far more expensive electric car.” But at the same time the government is cutting the subsidies and even setting the one CO2 price on fuel while electricity prices rise.

Anyone who restructures a market in a planned economy instead of relying on its strengths must at least make clear specifications. However, this requires clear responsibilities.

So far, the transport minister has been responsible for the climate goals in his sector and is supposed to set up charging stations and shift traffic. Funding programs to switch to new drives are not only announced by him, but also by the Minister for Economic Affairs and the Minister for the Environment. She is negotiating limit values ​​for cars in Europe, while her colleague has to convert the power grid and connect charging stations.

Because things are not going smoothly in the confusion, everyone involved distracts: with a discount ticket in local transport and the myth that buses and trains could transport everyone. It is now a matter of using German engineering skills and reliably providing long-distance traffic with new drives. If this does not succeed, then there is only one thing left in climate-neutral mobility: Less is more.

More: Nothing is progressing on Germany’s construction sites – “We can no longer work like this.”

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