Berlin, 30th May 2016. Scientists and Researchers from the disciplines of Climate, Mobility, and Sustainable Urban Development criticize the Mayor of Berlin, Michael Müller. As Co-President of “Metropolis,” the world-wide Network of cities over 1 million, Mr. Müller’s action does not reflect his rhetoric, they say. The scientists demand that Mr. Müller pass the Berlin Bicycle Bill yet this year. The bill would lead to an emissions reduction of 0.3 tons per citizen per year in the short-term, and would contribute a substantial part to the short- to mid-termed goal of a 40 percent reduction in transport related CO2 emissions. The measure is an immediate and low-cost contribution to climate change mitigation. Importantly, it would send a clear message: concrete steps are being taken to achieve the goals of the UNFCCC/COP21 agreement reached in Paris.
On Wednesday, the 1st June 2016, Berlin Mayor Michael Müller opens the German Habitat Forum in Berlin. As host and co-president of the Metropolis – World Association of the Major Metropolises, Mr. Müller has highlighted Berlin’s role as a role-model in sustainable urban development and participation.
Though touting participation, Mr. Müller’s administration has recently passed legislation which has raised the barriers to participation and citizen-initiated direct democratic measures. Mr. Müller’s administration is in the process of procuring an agency to run an ad campaign against the Bicycle Referendum. Mr. Müller is a proponent of construction of city highways, undermining the efforts toward sustainability and environmental protection. “As Scientists, we can no longer just watch while our politicians neglect their responsibilities. The Mayor of Berlin is an example of this,” says Professor Dr. Stephan Rammler of the Institute for Transportation Design at the University of Braunschweig, and the initiator of the joint statement of scientists. “It is time for the local authorities to take a side and follow words with action, instead of just making statements of vague intentions at global conferences.”
Leading scientists from disciplines of climate, mobility, and sustainable urban development have issued a public joint statement demanding that Mr. Müller immediately adopt and implement the Berlin Bicycle Bill, called the RadG, the legislation proposed by the Volksentscheid Fahrrad (the Berlin Bicycle Referendum). The contribution of the RadG legislation would contribute an estimated -0.3 tons of CO2 emissions per citizen per year in Berlin in the short- to mid-term.
“With the Radverkehrsgesetz [RadG], Berlin would become a role-model for other metropolises” maintains the environmental scientist Dr. Hermann Ott. “The massive expansion of bicycling is the fastest, most inexpensive, and effective way local governments can contribute to climate protection.”
More than 60 scientists have signed the statement. For years, they have been observing a disconnect between the scientific and political discourse at the international level and an implementation deficit at the local level. At the upcoming German Habitat Forum, Mayor Müller has the chance to set an example with tangible local action. “The Berliners have made it easy on their Mayor by offering legislation ready for use. From a scientific perspective, there is no reason to delay its implementation. Otherwise you lose credibility as the host of the German Habitat Forum for Sustainable Urban Development,” says so Prof. Dr. Stephan Rammler.
“We are enthusiastic about the support we are receiving from scientists and academics, and that the insincerity of our mayor on climate action is recognized as problematic,” stated Heinrich Strößenreuther, co-initiator of the Volksentscheid Fahrrad and former chairperson of VÖW, the Consortium for Ecological Economic Research.
The public joint statement from the Scientists can be found at this link: https://volksentscheid-fahrrad.de/new-urban-agenda/
The Presentation from the Press Conference (English and German): https://volksentscheidfahrrad.de/praesentationen/
Official Statement of Berlin Mayor Michael Müller, Co-President of the Metropolis Network, responsible for the positioning of 138 cities worldwide in the Habitat III process: http://www.german-habitat-forum.de/english/organizers.html
Speech of Berlin Mayor Michael Müller as spokesperson of metropolis: The second session of the Preparatory Committee of the United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development (Habitat III) in Nairobi, Kenya: http://webtv.un.org/search/metropolis-2nd-meeting-2nd-session-of-the-preparatorycommittee-for-habitat-iii/4174377207001?term=Michael%20
Berlins Energy and CO2 emissions bill including CO2 goals: http://gesetze.berlin.de/jportal/?quelle=jlink&query=EWendG+BE&psml=bsbeprod.psml&max=true&aiz=true
The RadG, the legislation proposal from the initiative in its final form is here: https://volksentscheid-fahrrad.de/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/Gesetz-zur-Foerderung-des-Radverkehrs-in-Berlin-RadG-2016-04-11.pdf
Information about the Berlin Bicycle Referendum (Volksentscheid Fahrrad):
Information on the sharpening of restrictions on citizens’ initiatives and referendums can be found at http://www.volksentscheidretten.de. The link to download the citizens’ initiative opposing the measure: http://www.volksentscheid-retten.de/wpcontent/uploads/2016/05/Unterschriftenliste.pdf
This press release online in German and English: https://volksentscheid-fahrrad.de/presse/pressemitteilungen/
Contact for the initiator of the joint statement of scientists: Prof. Dr. Stephan Rammler, +49 531-319 9296
Contact person for Press and Communications from the Volksentscheid Fahrrad: Heinrich Strößenreuther, +49 160-9744 23 95, firstname.lastname@example.org
Past press releases and press images: https://volksentscheid-fahrrad.de/presse/ and https://www.picdrop.de/volksentscheidfahrrad/Presse