Though Germans think that stopping global warming is important, popular support for reducing CO2 emissions in Germany’s transport sector has so far been tepid. One reason is that, each day, millions of Germans rely on forms of transport that produce emissions. The sense of individual responsibility fades amid the involvement of so many. In addition, most Germans either do not see the effects of global warming or regard them as far-off concerns.
Climate policy promises to do more than curb global warming, however. Especially in the transport sector, it can have immediate effects on people’s quality of life: cleaner air, less noise, more physical activity from walking and cycling, fewer parked cars crowding city streets. A more sustainable transport system also benefits the government in various ways – for example, by keeping health-care spending stable. It allows municipalities to plan ahead instead of playing catch up, and companies to drive structural transformation rather than being driven by it.
Highlighting such practical benefits will not guarantee public support for transforming the transport sector, but it will make the public more receptive to the process.