5 – Referendum

Accompanied by statements such as “We – CDU and Greens – have adopted a really ambitious climate plan.” (Greens), “A long-term plan is needed for the existentially important climate protection.” (SPD) or “The climate crisis is on our doorstep and wants to be dealt with.” (CDU) was averted in yesterday’s council meeting our citizen:inside decision. How can it be that climate protection is apparently given such great importance when a climate decision is not to be carried out?

The council meeting on March 18, 2022 was primarily designed to discuss and adopt the 2022 budget. You can find our statement on the budget here. After four long, unproductive hours, a decision was made on our petition under agenda item 13. Already in January the examination of the signatures could state as result that of the delivered 9,580 signatures 7,686 are valid – the quorum for the request (7,116 signatures were needed) is thus far exceeded and after § 32 NKomVG a decision is to be brought about!

Now, however, the Council with its “Declaration of Intent for Climate Neutrality by 2030” of 17.12.2021:

[“The City of Göttingen strives for the goal of climate neutrality by 2030 and initiates all necessary steps for this within the urban sphere. To this end, the” ambitious strategies and measures from the Göttingen 2030 Climate Plan will be continuously implemented, expanded and adapted to changing framework conditions. The city of Göttingen supports the necessary social change in its spheres of influence as a moderator, mediator, role model and motivator. On a supra-regional level, the city advocates for significant improvements in the framework conditions for successful and necessary climate protection measures.”]

apparently decided “essentially in the sense of the citizens petition” and was able to avert the decision according to § 32 VII 5 NKomVG.

However, the declaration of intent from December does not address the measures listed in the justification of our petition, with which the goal of climate neutrality is to be achieved. That is to say: in particular, such important points as a concrete timetable for the measures and reliable monitoring of their effectiveness in terms of reducing GHG emissions are not covered by the letter of intent. Nor does the budget on which a decision has now been made show that the goal of climate neutrality by 2030 is more than mere lip service. Serious aspirations cannot be found in the budget.

We had the opportunity to make a statement at the council meeting, you can find the text here. After the statement, an amendment was introduced by the Greens to add monitoring to the December statement of intent. This amendment was approved almost unanimously, averting our decision. So now we have to close the chapter “Citizens’ Initiative and Citizens’ Decision” for the time being.

Actually, we as citizens of Göttingen, who were involved in the climate decision, could be infinitely proud of what we have achieved. Just a year ago, the goal of climate neutrality by 2050 was adhered to – this was changed to 2030. And at the last moment, Monitorring has also been adopted as a target.

Nevertheless, it is important to note:

In our opinion, the budget and the negotiations in the Council do not show that it was really understood what was decided in the declaration of intent in December: Climate neutrality by 2030 actually means that from 2030 on no more avoidable CO2 is to be emitted and unavoidable residual emissions are to be compensated – courageous and consistent action according to this understanding is unfortunately largely missing in the Göttingen City Council.
The point criticized above can be further strengthened by a reference to the budget: in the coming budget year, no money will be spent on investment measures that would contribute to CO2 emission reduction. Instead, the budget that is supposed to be spent on “climate protection” includes few measures that actually do so.
A citizens decision could have provided broader support for the necessary policy decisions and measures for the set goal of becoming climate neutral by 2030. This option was rejected by the Council.

Our work will not stop here though – maybe we are just getting started… so if you are interested in joining us, you are always welcome!