Climate-friendly transport

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Climate-friendly transport

Compared with 1990, emissions from traffic and transport need to drop by nearly 42 percent by 2030 in order to meet the climate targets for the transport sector. This is to be achieved via a mix of more electric mobility, cycling and rail travel, alternative fuels and CO2 pricing.

6 min reading time

Promoting the conversion to electric mobility

The Federal Government’s target is for there to be seven to ten million electric vehicles registered in Germany by 2030. To accelerate the conversion, the Federal Government and the car industry increased the buyer’s premium, the “Umweltbonus” (environmental bonus) for e-cars: buyers can receive up to €6,000 for electric or fuel cell cars. A grant of up to €4,500 is available for buyers of hybrid electric vehicles with batteries that can be charged externally. The environmental bonus applies retroactively to all vehicles registered from 5 November 2019 and until 31 December 2025. The funding also applies to young electric used cars.

In the economic stimulus package to provide support during the coronavirus crisis, the state subsidy share of the environmental bonus was doubled. As a result, buyers of pure e-vehicles are even able to benefit from an innovation bonus of up to €9,000 up until the end of 2021. Since the beginning of 2020, there have also been other tax incentives for electric vehicles: better tax support for the purchase and use of electric service and delivery vehicles is in place. For example, up until the end of 2030, employees can charge their electric or hybrid vehicles tax-free in their employers’ underground car parks.

A million charging points for electric mobility

By 2030, there are to be a total of one million charging points available in Germany. The Federal Cabinet agreed a "Masterplan Ladeinfrastruktur" (master plan for charging station infrastructure) on this in November 2019.

From 2021 onwards, there is to be a further funding programme for publicly accessible charging infrastructure. The Federal Government is to call for tenders for 1,000 rapid charging stations for long-distance mobility.

The Government is also providing an additional €200 million in funding for private charging facilities for the first time in 2020. Charging points at employers’ and other business operators’ premises will also be financed through a further funding programme likely to be introduced from 2021 onwards.

The car industry wants to install at least 15,000 additional public charging points by 2022 and 100,000 charging points on its business premises and at affiliated dealers by 2030.

In future, bigger car parks owned by residential, corporate and other buildings must be fitted with charging infrastructure. Individual property owners and tenants will be able to request the installation of charging stations if they pay for it. The Federal Government has introduced corresponding new statutory regulations for this purpose.

Motor vehicle tax to be based more heavily on CO2 emissions

With the reform of motor vehicle tax, a climate component is to be added alongside cubic capacity to the motor vehicle tax of cars that are newly registered from 2021 onwards. This will be based on the car's CO2 emissions and will increase in six levels from €2 to €4 for each gram of carbon dioxide emitted per kilometre. The existing exemption limit of 95 grams of CO2 per kilometre will still apply. No tax is charged up to this value.

E-cars will remain exempt from motor vehicle tax. This also applies to electric cars newly registered between 2020 and 2025.

Cheaper rail travel, more expensive air travel

Value-added tax on long-distance rail tickets dropped to the reduced value-added tax rate of seven percent on 1 January 2020. This makes rail travel more attractive. By contrast, the air travel surcharge increased slightly in April 2020.

Making local public transport more attractive

The Federal Government is increasing federal funds for local public transport to €1 billion per year from 2021 onwards. The aim of this is to expand the local transport network. From 2025 onwards, the Federal Government's share of the funding is to increase to €2 billion per year. In addition, there is to be funding for fleets of buses with electric, hydrogen-based or biogas engines. The target here is for half of town and city buses to be electrically powered by 2030.

Investments in the railway

The Federal Government and national railway company Deutsche Bahn are to invest €86 billion in the rail network by 2030. With the expansion of the electrified network and digitalisation of the control and safety technology, rail capacities and efficiency are set to rise.
Goods transport will also benefit from this modernisation. In order to move more goods from road to rail, the Federal Government also wants to promote single wagonload transport as an alternative. This forms the basis of rail freight transport. The route network for longer goods trains will also be expanded.

Better legal framework conditions in planning and approval processes are to accelerate rail expansion.

More money for cycling

There is to be a significant reinforcement of cycling as a mode of transport by 2030. The Federal Government is making considerably more money available for this purpose. It is providing an additional €900 million for expanding cycling infrastructure. Between 2020 and 2023 approximately €1.4 billion in total will be made available for bicycle traffic. The Federal Government is promoting model projects and expanding comprehensive cycle route networks. Statutory framework conditions to improve conditions for cyclists already entered into force on 28 April 2020 with the amendment of the Road Traffic Regulations (Straßenverkehrsordnung).

Electricity-based fuels and new biofuels

Hydrogen in connection with the fuel cell has a part to play in mobility of the future, for example, in local public transport, for heavy goods vehicles or delivery vehicles. The addition of renewable energy sources reduces the use of fossil fuels.

The Federal Government is providing well over €1 billion for funding production plants for electricity-based fuels and advanced biofuels, among other things.

CO2 emissions primarily from road traffic
After the energy sector and industry, transport is the third biggest emitter of greenhouse gases with a share of around 20 percent of CO2 emissions (2019). By far the biggest proportion (94 percent) of emissions from transport was attributable to road traffic. Petrol and diesel cars are responsible for around 59 percent of this. CO2 emissions from transport have not dropped since 1990. The reason for this is that while vehicles are more energy-efficient, there are lots more, heavier and more powerful cars on the roads than there were 30 years ago. The number of passenger kilometres travelled – usually by car – increased by around 64 percent by 2017. Goods traffic rose by 74 percent. 71 percent of goods were transported by road. In 2019, 47.7 million cars were newly registered – of which 66 percent were petrol cars, 32 percent diesel cars and two percent were cars run on alternative fuels (brochure “Climate Action in Figures”, 2020 edition).
The proportion of vehicles run on alternative fuels needs to increase in order to meet climate targets.