Germany’s largest motoring club calls on drivers to ditch their cars

Germany's biggest motoring association, the ADAC, has urged drivers to leave their car at home more often to help the country cut down its dependence on Russian energy.

A cyclist in Berlin.
A cyclist in Berlin. The ADAC wants drivers to cycle or walk more often to save on energy. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Jörg Carstensen

As Russian President Vladimir Putin continues his war on neighbouring Ukraine, more people in Germany are speaking out about how to cut down on energy.

And even the motorist lobby is calling for people to give up their cars – or at least do what they can to save fuel.

“Every litre of fuel saved can help to reduce dependence on oil imports and therefore indirectly influence the further development of the war,” ADAC President Christian Reinicke told the newspapers in the Funke media group.

“For many short distances, driving a car makes no sense. For other distances, you can also use public transport,” Reinicke said.

He advised an economical driving style. “I myself also try to drive about 20 percent slower. If all 21.2 million members of the ADAC did that, it would already be a huge savings effect,” he said.

He urged people to leave their car at home more often. 

It’s possible to go “to the bakery by bicycle instead of by SUV”, he said.

According to a survey commissioned by the ADAC, almost one in two drivers is currently prepared to forego individual journeys by car in order to save energy. Meanwhile, 60 percent have succeeded in saving energy by driving more economically.

To encourage ADAC members to save fuel, the association is launching a campaign on Wednesday. The aim is to inform motorists about potential savings and alternatives to their own vehicles.

In an open letter that the ADAC planned to send to its members on Wednesday, Reinicke and ADAC traffic president Gerhard Hillebrand called for people to walk and cycle more often. 

The ADAC’s plea will likely be welcomed by the German government, which has been trying to ensure Germany is no longer dependent on Russia for oil and gas since the war on Ukraine began in February. 

READ ALSO: Pressure grows on Germany to introduce tougher speed limits

Climate and Economy Minister Robert Habeck, of the Greens, said on Tuesday he believes Germany can achieve independence from oil supplies from Russia “within days”.

Russia’s share of oil imports has already been reduced from 35 percent to about 12 percent, Habeck said after a meeting with his Polish counterpart Anna Moskwa in Warsaw. Most supply contracts have already been converted, he added.

When it comes to reliance on Russian gas “we are working flat out to overcome the high level of dependence that Germany had here, and which was a mistake,” said Habeck.

He said the share of gas imports from Russia has been reduced from 55 per cent to around 40 per cent. In order to overcome this he said, “LNG terminals are now being built at record speed”.

LNG or liquified natural gas terminals would allow Germany to diversify its suppliers of gas, potentially increasing direct supplies from the United States, Qatar or Canada.

READ ALSO: Germany to build LNG terminal to reduce Russian gas reliance

Member comments

  1. Its too bad we couldn’t rely more on DB, in the Frankfurt area you are lucky if the trains run on time 20% of the time, and often delays of 30 minutes or more are normal. How does one commute with that kind of service

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German state environment ministers push for Autobahn speed limit

Environment ministers in Germany's 16 states want to see a temporary Autobahn speed limit to help cut down reliance on Russian gas.

German state environment ministers push for Autobahn speed limit

Calls have been growing for a temporary speed limit or Tempolimit on Germany’s Autobahn network to further reduce dependency on Russia’s energy amid the war on Ukraine.

But the move has seen severe pushback from some politicians – in particular the Free Democrats (FDP).

On Friday, German media site Spiegel reported that the Conference of Environment Ministers had come out in favour of a temporary speed limit on the Autobahn, which is the only stretch of motorway in Europe where people can drive as fast as they want in many sections.

It’s a significant move given that the issue is so contentious in Germany. 

Spiegel said that the ministers agreed a resolution on Friday to introduce a temporary nationwide speed limit. However, they did not specify what the maximum speed should be.

The Greens have campaigned for a number of years to impose a 130km/h (around 80 mph) limit on German motorways – but the party had to abandon this electoral promise last year during coalition negotiations to keep the freedom-loving FDP from walking.

According to environment ministers in the states, a general speed limit should be introduced as a “cost-effective, quickly to implement, and immediately effective measure” so that Germany consumes less petrol and diesel, and becomes less dependent on oil imports.

READ ALSO: Could Germany introduce an Autobahn speed limit?

At the same time, the step would help protect the climate, keep the air clean, reduce noise and make roads safer, they said. The speed limit could “initially be introduced for a limited period during the ongoing conflict”, the resolution said in reference to the war in Ukraine. In the long term, the focus is on the expansion of electric mobility and local public transport.

“I think it is absolutely right that we set a visible sign,” Lower Saxony’s environment minister Olaf Lies (SPD), chair of the conference, told Spiegel. “We did not have an ideological debate.”

Rather, he said, it was about a pragmatic response to the supply crisis because of the war.

The move was backed by all states. The environment ministers in Bavaria (Thorsten Glauber, Free Voters) and North Rhine-Westphalia (Lutz Lienenkämper, CDU) voted in favour, but issued a note stating that they only expect a speed limit to have a limited effect.

In the other 14 states, the ministries are led by the Greens or the SPD.

The federal states can’t implement the decision on their own – this would require a federal law.

“Now it’s the federal government’s turn,” tweeted Hesse environment minister Priska Hinz (Greens). 

So far, none of the states has announced an initiative in the Bundesrat, the parliament that represents the states – but they are sending a strong message to the federal government.