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German transport minister opposes Autobahn speed limits

By Chris Thompson, 31 Jan 2019 News

German transport minister opposes Autobahn speed limits news

A poll says a slim majority of Germans are in favour

A recent report by Reuters revealed that speed limits are being considered for Germany’s Autobahns, but the nation’s transport minister has since said he strongly opposes the idea.

A follow-up report by Reuters quotes German transport minister Andreas Scheuer as saying he believes there are better ways to reduce the country’s emissions – something it needs to do to avoid fines from the EU.

“The principle of freedom has proven itself,” Scheuer said.

“Whoever wants to drive 120 can drive 120, and those who want to go faster can do that too. Why this constant micromanagement?”

The National Platform on the Future of Mobility (NPM) has created a yet-to-be-finalised list of recommendations for reducing Germany’s environmental impact, but acknowledges that the idea of introducing a speed limit on the Autobahn could be contentious.

A poll published by German newspaper Bild am Sonntag revealed 52 per cent of respondents were in favour of a limit between 120km/h and 140km/h, while 46 per cent were opposed to the idea.

The NPM says a limit, as well as “fuel tax hikes, quotas for electric and hybrid car sales, and ending tax breaks for diesel cars,” could help Germany meet half of the emissions reduction required.

Andreas Scheuer, however, says a speed limit would only reduce the emission level by “less than 0.5 per cent.”

“The goal is to think about the work they’re doing and to generate results, instead of revisiting old, rejected and unrealistic demands like speed limits,” he said.

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He added that almost a third of Germany’s highway network is speed-limited, and that he hopes to meet with the NPM committee to discuss its proposal.

Increasing pressure on the automotive industry to become more ‘green’ has put progressively more difficult standards up for car companies to meet, but reports in recent years have found that changes to industries such as shipping and cruise holidays could dramatically reduce environmental impact.

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A report by The Guardian in 2016 quoted a German environment group’s transport officer and saying one cruise ship is polluting as much as millions of cars.

“One cruise ship emits as many air pollutants as five million cars going the same distance because these ships use heavy fuel that on land would have to be disposed of as hazardous waste,” Nabu environment group spokesperson Daniel Rieger told the outlet.

“Heavy fuel oil can contain 3,500 times more sulphur than diesel that is used for land traffic vehicles. Ships do not have exhaust abatement technologies like particulate filters that are standard on passenger cars and lorries,” said Rieger.

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With hundreds of cruise ships in the ocean, some experts have pushed for cruise ships to convert to using cleaner fuels, the benefits of which they say will outweigh the costs involved.