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Berlin to hold referendum on 2030 climate neutrality

November 29, 2022

A citizens' initiative has collected enough signatures for a vote to move Berlin's target date for climate neutrality up 15 years to 2030. Proponents want the vote in February, but politicians are pumping the brakes.

Climate protesters carrying placards outside Berlin's so-called Red City Hall
Berlin residents want the vote way sooner than later but local politicians are trying to manage expectationsImage: Lena Lachnit/dpa/picture alliance

Berlin Interior Senator Iris Spranger on Tuesday announced that the citizens' initiative "Klimaneustart" (Climate Restart) had petitioned enough signatures to force a referendum on moving forward the city's target for reaching climate neutrality from the current national target date of 2045 to 2030.

For their part, local politicians say the plan is unrealistic.

Berlin city officials say roughly 254,000 signatures were collected by the end of a four-month canvassing phase ending on November 15. After checking signatures for validity, officials determined that Klimaneustart had surpassed the threshold of 7% of eligible local voters, or roughly 171,000, delivering at least 180,000 valid signatures.   

Organizers are calling for the vote to be staged on February 12, when Berlin will be repeating district parliamentary and the state's House of Representative elections, which were found to have been poorly organized and extremely flawed when they were staged in September 2021.

Lawmakers say rolling the referendum into the February vote is unrealistic, with Spranger citing legal and organizational hurdles. Although the interior senator floated April as a possible alternative, Berlin's Senate has not yet set a date.

Berlin estimates it will spend roughly €39 million ($40.3 million) to repeat the 2021 vote, which itself cost €14 million to organize. No estimate was given as to the cost of staging the referendum.

Berlin Interior Senator Iris Spranger (SPD) speaking at a press conference in front of a blue wall
Interior Senator Spranger threw cold water on the idea of holding the referendum with repeat local elections in FebruaryImage: Fabian Sommer/dpa/picture alliance

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js/sms (AFP, dpa)