Lifting the hammer: Germany considers limits on Autobahn speeds


2020 Mercedes-Benz EQC

2020 Mercedes-Benz EQC

Efforts to curb global warming have led Germany to propose limiting speeds on its famous Autobahns.

Facing heavy fines from the European Union if it fails to meet greenhouse-gas reduction targets, the country's committee on the future of transport put forward a series of draft proposals that includes limiting speeds on currently unfettered sections of autobahn. Reuters obtained copies of the draft proposals.

The autobahn, Germany's freeway system, has long had speed limits in congested urban areas, but has until now also had long sections without limits.

READ THIS: Automakers face big fines in Europe for missing CO2 targets

The new proposals by the committee on the future of transport would limit speeds on previously unlimited sections of the autobahns to 81 mph (130 kilometers per hour.)  They would not affect speeds in urban areas.

European Union nations agreed in October to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 to levels 35 percent below those already agreed to for 2021, following a particularly dire climate report by the United Nations' International Panel on Climate Change. That report showed that catastrophic effects of climate change could arrive by 2040.

CHECK OUT: Europe commits to 35 percent CO2 cut by 2030, after dire UN climate report

European countries have been making dramatic efforts for more than a decade to reduce carbon-dioxide emissions from powerplants and other sources. Transportation, however, is the one economic sector whose emissions are still on the rise. To meet the new climate targets, Germany, the largest country in Europe with the highest emissions of any Western European nation, will have to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from its cars.

As the country which also has by far the largest auto industry in Europe, Germany has long prided itself on its hammer-down autobahns which show off the performance of its cars and its drivers.

After German automakers spent decades trying to improve fuel economy with diesel engines, the country's largest automakers are now facing scandals, criminal indictments, and billions of dollars in fines over cheating diesel emissions tests.

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Now those automakers are beginning to focus on building and selling electric cars. Germany's largest automaker, Volkswagen, has invested $10 billion in developing new electric models and battery supplies. Daimler and BMW aren't far behind.

Included in the proposals by the committee on the future of transport are California-style quotas for electric-car sales.

Several previous efforts to reduce autobahn speeds have been defeated, and it remains to be seen if the latest government upholds the proposals in the face of increasingly dire climate warnings.

Green Car Reports respectfully reminds its readers that the scientific validity of climate change is not a topic for debate in our comments. We ask that any comments by climate-change denialists be flagged for moderation. We also ask that political discussions be restricted to the topic of the article they follow. Thank you in advance for helping us keep our comments on topic, civil, respectful, family-friendly, and fact-based.

Green Car Reports respectfully reminds its readers that the scientific validity of climate change is not a topic for debate in our comments. We ask that any comments by climate-change denialists be flagged for moderation. We also ask that political discussions be restricted to the topic of the article they follow. Thank you in advance for helping us keep our comments on topic, civil, respectful, family-friendly, and fact-based.

 
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