Reason prevailed in Berlin on Sunday. The preliminary final result was clear much earlier than expected: the population of the capital does not want the state government to be legally obliged to achieve various climate targets by 2030. The referendum failed.
Berlin? Against climate protection? Of course it's not that simple. After all, the vast majority of people – also outside of Berlin, by the way – are aware that politicians must tackle climate change with more ambition than in the past few decades.
But it is a clear signal against the brute form with which the initiators of the decision wanted to achieve more climate measures. That meant: climate protection with a crowbar, at any price. It doesn't matter at all if other things could fall by the wayside.
The warnings of experts and politicians - mind you also the still incumbent red-green-red government - that the climate commitments announced in the decision are simply utopian and cannot be achieved by 2030 were ignored. The motto seemed almost defiant: Let's first see what you can do if we force you.
The vote in Berlin is therefore also a vote against a certain style that is characterized by ignorance combined with a pinch of self-righteousness. Nourished by the absolute certainty of being on the right side of history - and thus not being able to be wrong at all.
In order to achieve their goal, the initiators did not shy away from promoting yes votes with misleading marketing. "Setting goals for politicians!" could be read on huge displays in the capital for weeks. However, the amendments to the draft law, which would have resulted in a success of the decision without further intermediate steps, would not have set any goals for politicians. Rather, targets already set by 2045 would have been converted into commitments by 2030 – and thus become legally enforceable. The consequences for the city? Impossible to guess.
The fact that Berliners have not allowed themselves to be taken over by such climate populism deserves respect. And should make one or the other passionate Berlin basher pause.
The fact that it was reason – and not laziness or indifference – that prevailed in Berlin can be seen in the details of the concrete result. The decision failed not only because of the required quorum of 25 percent yes votes. In addition, almost half of the voters spoke out against the project. This is remarkable because it would have been enough if the opponents of the decision had simply stayed at home. And so it's not a hard no, or a no that can be traced back to a lack of mobilization. It's a no out of conviction.
The central lesson from the capital is this: climate protection, which knowingly ignores all other factors such as social compatibility or economic prosperity, does not even have a majority in a city like Berlin. The Greens in particular would do well to register this. Because the struggle for the right amount of climate protection will continue.