Minister of Transport Interview: Winfried Hermann on Traffic and Climate – South West

Minister of Transport Winfried Hermann – here at the opening of a bike path. Photo: Schmidt / dpa

By Roland Mussel, RNZ Stuttgart

Stuttgart. Winfried Hermann (Green) since 2011 Minister of Transport, first in the green-red era, since 2016 in the coalition with the CDU. In the interview granted to RNZ, this 57-year-old woman is asking for more funds for the extension of electronic charging stations and government support to the aviation industry on the path to climate neutrality. A conversation about traffic change – and new sounds in the Union.

Mr Hermann, what is more important to you as Chairman of the Supervisory Board of Stuttgart Airport: its economic well-being or its ecological balance?

As Chairman of the Supervisory Board, I am attentive to the well-being of the company. That's why I want to make Stuttgart one of the most sustainable airports in Europe. We have already accomplished a great deal, recently with strong ecological components for takeoff and landing fees.

What about short-haul flights?

Short-haul flights are particularly damaging to the climate. So we have to make travel by train so attractive that the demand for domestic flights disappears. I do not think anything about bans. People want to see the world, the economy wants to do business around the world. The role of politics and business is to make air traffic climate-neutral.

What does this mean concretely?

We need innovation and control. Former Federal Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble introduced the air traffic tax. We must take advantage of this, that is to say that the short distance tariff of about € 7.40 must be increased significantly in order to increase the involvement of the transport sector. Aviation in the weather damage caused by short-haul flights. It would be faster and more efficient than a new tax on kerosene.

Where to go with the income?

We need other aircraft and fuels for a turnaround of air traffic – it will be expensive. The state should financially support the aviation sector in this process through these additional tax revenues. The industry has recognized that it must also contribute to Germany being carbon neutral in 2050.

Car traffic is decisive for that. But the acceptance of electric cars is mediocre.

The federal government and the auto industry have been too hesitant. Their initial claim to have a million electric cars on the roads in Germany by 2020 will be missed. I set myself the goal that at least two million electric cars in Baden-Württemberg 2030 will circulate in the streets so that we can be completely carbon neutral by 2050.

Is it still realistic?

For this, everyone must work hard. The industry has to offer cheaper cars, this is the main hurdle so far. Citizens must question about their traffic behavior, they are also in the obligation. And the policy must ensure that the public charging infrastructure is developed so that no one is afraid to stay.

What do you think is necessary?

In Baden-Württemberg, we need one million charging points by 2030, 900,000 private and 100,000 public. To do this, the federal government must remove barriers to charging stations in private buildings and the federal government and the state must invest more in public stations. Renewable fuels, fuel cell technology and hydrogen are also important.

What does this mean for the 2020/21 budget?

We definitely need more resources to modernize online charging stations and hydrogen filling stations. We are already working on model projects for renewable fuels.

The Green State Council wants Baden-Württemberg 2040 to be climate neutral. Is it realistic?

It's very ambitious and appropriate for the challenges of the climate crisis. As a coalition minister, I am guided by the federal government's strategy and the support of our coalition partner CDU. The Green Party wants to be a driver, I congratulate them. But we, the greens only will not save the climate. I am therefore happy with the new sounds of CSU and CDU. Recently, I would have been severely criticized for some of the demands of the Union.

Judges call for Euro 5 driving ban at national level for Stuttgart 2020 Why are you locking yourself up?

Nobody in Europe has taken as many measures to control air pollution as we do in Stuttgart. We use clean air filters and special asphalt, we have made public transport more attractive and cheaper and we have introduced traffic bans by zone for Euro 4 diesel. We are now trying to meet the limit values ​​by bans. Significant distance-related driving behavior according to Euro 5. I hope the courts will see what we are doing and that values ​​will continue to improve.

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