Is Germany set for another showdown on autobahn speed limits?

Germany’s Social Democrats (SPD) have changed their tune on autobahn speed limits - with new chief Saskia Esken in favour of their imposition.

Is Germany set for another showdown on autobahn speed limits?
Picture alliance/Marius Becker/dpa

The SPD wants to enter into a debate with their larger coalition partner, the Christian Democrats (CDU), about imposing a 130 km/h speed limit on the country’s highway network. 

The CDU has hit back however, with Federal Transport Minister Andreas Scheuer saying the government has bigger fish to fry in the climate debate. 

“We’ve got far more important tasks than putting this highly emotional topic in the shop window over and over again,” he said. 

“There is no (public) support for this at all.”

Esken, who took over the SPD leadership in December 2019, has said imposing speed limits will help Germany reach its climate targets, as well as improving road safety. 

“(Doing so would be a) free climate protection measure,” she said. 

Scheuer however told the German Press Agency that the debate had already been settled. 

“The Bundestag voted a few weeks ago and rejected a speed limit with an overwhelming majority,” he said. 

“We should act intelligently. It’s about better traffic control and guidance through digital technologies.”

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Sweden Democrat slammed for denying climate crisis in parliament

The new Sweden Democrat MP Elsa Widding has been attacked as "shameful" and "deplorable", for denying the climate crisis in her maiden speech in the country's parliament.

Sweden Democrat slammed for denying climate crisis in parliament

In her speech, Widding, a civil engineer educated at Chalmers University of Technology, said that a warming planet would have advantages as well as disadvantages, and that there was no clear scientific backing for the climate crisis. 

“I believe that there is a lack of scientific evidence for saying that we find ourselves in a climate crisis,” she said. “The last time that was the case was in the 1960s when summers either stopped or became so short that we couldn’t produce a harvest.” 

She claimed that every piece of action Sweden is taking to combat climate change is simply “gesture politics”, and that even if Sweden cut its greenhouse gas emissions to zero, it would only shave 0.0027˚C from global temperatures. She called for an end to the “religion” of climate policy and campaigning. 

Markus Selin, an MP for the Social Democrats called Widding’s statement “deplorable” and said he was “ashamed” to hear it. 

“Just 24 hours ago we stood and listened to Ulf Kristersson here in the parliament’s chamber talk far and wide about climate efforts and the Paris Agreement, and now we are hear 24 hours later listening to the biggest party backing his government chirping up and saying we should drop all the work to get our planet out of the dirt.” 

Annie Lööf, leader of the Centre Party, called Widding’s statement “embarrassing”. 

“That the Sweden Democrats are climate change deniers is nothing new,” she said, saying that it was the Moderates, Christian Democrats, and Liberals who were really to blame for giving the party real political power. 

“Moderates, Christian Democrats and Liberals – how could you let the party of climate deniers get all the way into the government offices?”