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Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Germany. From July 1, “total driving ban on weekends”? This is false

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The message on the Polish network generates more than one million reach, stating that from the beginning of July it will not be possible to drive passenger cars in Germany on weekends. The reason is to care for the environment. We assure you: there are no such plans.

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“From July 1, Germany is introducing a total driving ban on weekends due to CO2 emissions” – this is the information posted on movie showing the movement of cars on some road. This video is widely distributed by Polish Internet users, and on one Polish account on TikTok it has over a million views.

Entries with information about the alleged ban planned in Germany are very popular on the Internet, in various versionsTikTok

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Internet users warn: “This is tightening the screw”

Under this recording, in the comments, voices criticizing the idea are combined with expressions of disbelief. “Someone's brain has been activated”; “Can anyone confirm this? Because for me it's fantasy!!!”; “Where do these people get these ideas?” – Internet users react (original spelling of posts). Some of them place this alleged ban in the broader context of a conspiracy theory about the heartless powerful of this world who, step by step, without taking into account ordinary citizens, are depriving them of basic freedoms. Moreover, there is also an anti-EU context in the comments.

“What was recently called speculation is now being implemented, because the Germans have invented environmental and CO2 protection, and want to introduce a total ban on ordinary citizens driving passenger cars from July 1 this year. And not only for us, Poles, they will prohibit entry to Germany on weekends, but also their citizens,” he argues TikTok one of the Polish Internet users. And he goes on to say: “This is just tightening the screws and making it so that an ordinary person can't move around, can't use his car.” This recording has almost 800,000 views. views.

The alleged ban is linked to false theories around the idea of ​​a 15-minute city, according to which residents will be imprisoned there. “They are slowly introducing 15-minute cities. They start with the Weekend. And people didn't believe it, they boldly said it wasn't possible”; “It starts with weekends and ends with 15-minute cities,” Internet users write on the Internet. Some, however, point out that they live in Germany but have not heard anything about the new ban since July 1. Others say that such a ban has been in force for a long time. Still others – that the ban has not yet entered into force.

He also wrote about the alleged ban on April 17 on the X platform AlexJones, a popular American conspiracy tracker. “Germany announced a plan to introduce a driving ban on weekends. Before people wake up, passenger cars will be banned,” he said. His entry has over 300,000 views. views.

Currently, in Germany there is a driving ban for cars – but for trucks – only on Sundays from midnight to 10 p.m., during public holidays, and also on Saturdays on selected roads during holidays. Will a similar restriction for passenger cars come into force from July 1, 2024? We checked.

There is no change in law. This is just a loose suggestion from the minister

The information that Germany was planning to introduce a driving ban on weekends spread on social media after the German media revealed the content of the letter on April 12, which German Minister of Digital Affairs and Transport Volker Wissing from the FDP he wrote to the heads of the SPD, Greens and FDP parliamentary groups. In it, he warned of drastic restrictions for drivers if the government coalition does not agree on the reform of the Climate Protection Act. In his opinion, to meet the goals of the current climate law, Germany “would have to immediately save 22 million tons of CO2 emissions.” According to the politician, such savings will not be achieved by reducing speeds or other measures, but only by temporarily giving up driving cars and trucks “for two days a week.” Wissing also talked about it on the radio that same day Deutschlandfunk.

As he explained on April 12, a series of entries on the X platform Michał Kędzierski, analyst from the Germany and Northern Europe Team of the Center for Eastern Studies, the act adopted in 2019 sets the maximum annual emission values ​​for economic sectors (energy, industry, transport, construction, agriculture and waste) until 2030. Kędzierski wrote: “responsibility for their enforcement rests with the relevant ministries. In the event of failure to meet the annual targets (emission limits), the ministry supervising a given sector is obliged to prepare a recovery plan within 3 months, containing instruments for a quick reduction of emissions, which would enable a return to statutory levels.” designated reduction path.

“Liberals [z FDP] from the very beginning they wanted to change the act so that emissions would be settled collectively and not sectorally (e.g. so that the energy sector could 'compensate' for transport), and to transfer the responsibility and obligation to implement rapid reduction instruments from individual ministries to the entire government. This was also agreed in the coalition agreement and such a project was prepared, but it got stuck in numerous coalition disputes,” the analyst explained.

Criticism even from the minister's coalition partners

According to German media, Minister Wissing's words should not be interpreted as an announcement of changes. They were only intended to encourage coalition partners to speed up legislative work. However, Volker Wissing's announcements were criticized even by his party's coalition partners. “We, the Greens, do not consider a car driving ban to be a sensible solution. A responsible minister should not raise unjustified fears” – this is what she said about the minister's proposal leader of the Green Party parliamentary group Katharina Droege. She called on the minister to present reasonable suggestions for climate protection in transport. And the deputy head of the Social Democrats (SPD) faction, Detlef Mueller, said: “Scaring people with absurd proposals does not help protect the climate in the transport sector, on the contrary.”

Greenpeace expert Clara Thompson told DPA that the Transport Minister is “shamelessly” trying to divert attention from his own failures. “Wissing wasted two years blocking every climate protection measure from road traffic – now he is inventing terrifying scenarios so that he won't have to do anything in the future either,” she said. The Federal Environment Agency reports that in 2023, the transport sector was responsible for emitting 146 million tons of CO2, which is 22%. total carbon dioxide emissions in Germany. This is 13 million tons more than expected. The head of the agency, Dirk Messner, said that “there is no need to introduce such a ban, it is not seriously considered anyway, it is scaring people for no reason.”

On April 15, it turned out that the German parties had reached an agreement. “The FDP threatened driving bans on weekends, caused a storm, increased pressure on the Greens and achieved its goal. The coalition reached an agreement on the reform of the climate protection act,” he wrote On April 15, on platform X, Michał Kędzierski from OSW, citing the entry of the FDP chairman, German Finance Minister Christian Lindner. “For the liberals, it means making the act more flexible and giving up regulations coming from a centrally planned economy, for the Greens – excessive relaxation of the act (which is why they resisted for a long time),” Kędzierski commented.

To sum up: in Germany, no law has been introduced prohibiting driving passenger cars on weekends from July 1, 2024. The false message spread online is a manipulation created by the words of one of the German ministers, which had no legal consequences.

Main photo source: Shutterstock

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