BERLIN • A majority of Germans favour setting maximum speed limits for Germany's famously fast Autobahns to help battle climate change, according to a poll.
Some 52 per cent of those polled wanted vehicle speeds limited to between 120kmh and 140kmh, the poll conducted by the Emnid institute and published by Bild am Sonntag newspaper last Saturday showed. Forty-six per cent opposed such limits.
A government-appointed committee studying the future of transport is looking at ending the "no limits" sections on motorways as part of a broader proposal to help Germany meet European Union emissions targets.
Not everyone is on board with the plans. Transport Minister Andreas Scheuer, a conservative from Bavaria, the home state of carmakers Daimler and Audi, said he opposed setting speed limits on Germany's decades-old motorway network.
"The principle of freedom has proven itself. Whoever wants to drive 120kmh can drive 120kmh, and those who want to go faster can do that too. Why this constant micromanagement?" he said.
Germany could be hit with heavy EU fines if it fails to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases and poisonous nitrogen oxides. Transport emissions, which have not fallen since 1990, are a particular target for reductions.
The government is torn between the need to protect Germany's crucial car industry - buffeted by costly emissions cheating scandals in recent years - and the need to cut greenhouse gases to meet EU and domestic climate goals.
Imposing a motorway speed limit of 130kmh, fuel tax hikes and quotas for electric and hybrid car sales, along with ending tax breaks for diesel cars, could generate half the cuts in greenhouse gas emissions needed, the committee said in a paper reported by Reuters this month.
The committee's findings are to be incorporated into a climate change law that the government wants to enact this year.