According to Federal Transport Minister Volker Wissing, Germany must take the path to climate neutrality with a technology-open and innovation-friendly policy. "We can only advance our country with concrete proposals and not with climate blah-blah," he said on Saturday in Mainz at the Rhineland-Palatinate FDP party conference, where he was re-elected state leader.
In his keynote speech, he gave digs at the Greens, with whom the FDP sits at the coalition table both at federal and state level. He only touched on state politics.
According to Wissing, rail and road traffic in Germany will continue to increase. Carbon-neutral mobility comes in many ways, not just one, he said. In his opinion, the importance of the car will not decrease, but rather increase slightly. "We cannot secure our climate goals without synthetic fuels," he said, referring to the discussion in the EU about future drive types for cars.
"It's about having climate-neutral and affordable vehicles." One should not concentrate on just one type of drive such as the electric battery. "We want to keep this country open to any technical innovation," he said. "We cannot secure our climate goals without synthetic fuels."
The EU vote on the planned end for new cars with combustion engines from 2035 was postponed last week due to additional demands from Germany. Wissing had requested a proposal from the EU Commission on how climate-neutral, synthetic fuels, so-called e-fuels, could be used in combustion engines after 2035.
In his keynote speech, the Federal Transport Minister emphasized his efforts to modernize the German rail network. "We now need more capacity on the rails as soon as possible," said Wissing. That is why he is pursuing the concept of completely overhauling sections of track.
A lot has been left undone in Germany in the past when it came to digitization. The federal traffic light government has now taken the first steps towards implementing its digitization strategy. "We are making very good progress with the gigabit expansion," he said. However, the state cannot do everything, the majority must be done in a market economy. "By 2030 we will have 5G everywhere where people live and work," said Wissing. A change in thinking is also important.
With a view to the latest developments in artificial intelligence (AI), Wissing said: "We must approach this technology openly, in an innovation-friendly manner and with clear regulation." The EU must ensure that the "rapid development" does not only happen outside of Europe. He will work at European level for regulation that will enable AI development in Europe on the basis of shared values.
Wissing was re-elected by the delegates with around 84 percent of the votes cast - significantly more than when he was re-elected almost two years ago with 64.5 percent. Economics Minister Daniela Schmitt was re-elected with 88 percent, around 11 points more than two years ago. Both ran unopposed.
On the other hand, there was a competitive vote in the election of Wissing's second deputy: Carina Konrad, member of the Bundestag, beat the previous incumbent, Sandra Weeser, member of the Bundestag, by 120 to 74 votes.