Climate Experts Target Unlimited Autobahn, German Gov't Flips Out

A “Rettungsgasse” in Germany.
Photo: Getty Images

The debate over ending the de-restricted sections of Germany’s Autobahn highways is a lot like the gun debate here in America. A new fight between climate experts and the government that commissioned their report is as good an example of that as any.

Thenews in America is that Germany could lose its famous (or infamous) no-speed limit sections of its highway system, as reported on by Reuters.

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The news in Germany is a bit more nuanced.

The German government commissioned a new climate report on mobility for the future, specifically asking for creative suggestions as Der Spiegel noted, and the preliminary findings (the full thing is out in a couple months) recommend cutting out the last sections of no-speed-limit Autobahn in favor of a more eco-friendly 130 km/h limit, which is 81 mph in our money.

But before even this preliminary report could be discussed, Germany’s transportation minister Andreas Scheuer has straight up cancelled the meeting, as clear a sign of disapproval as possible. It all sounds a little obtuse to Americans, but the Germans themselves have picked up on things real fast, as Der Spiegel reported today:

“To waste the transportation experts that you yourself called up is really something,” said Deputy Group Chairman Oliver Krischer. “That smells of punishing recommendations that you just personally don’t like.”

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Making things extra clear, transportation minister Scheuer called this whole thing an “agenda,” and said it was “against all healthy understanding.” He dismissed the proposal as “failed flair,” or some kind fo naked intent, as Welt reported.

Germany has already taken big steps to cutting down on its freewheeling car culture. Fully de-restricted sections of the Autobahn are rare as most of it is on pretty sane speed limits already. Moreover, new plans are reining in not only diesels from cities, but cars altogether.

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Cars are big business in Germany, particularly high-speed, high-tech vehicles, and there’s a real cultural connection to them as well, particularly among conservatives. The transportation minister who canceled the meeting, is unsurprisingly a member of the CSU center-right party.

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Raphael Orlove

Raphael Orlove is features editor for Jalopnik.