After the zero-emission zone for the city of Berlin recently suffered a bitter setback because it is against the law according to expert opinions, the Berliners now want to tackle the problem on water instead. The capital's largest lake is to become an environmental zone and only allow hybrid and electric boats from 2025. The criticism is fierce.
The decision in the Treptow-Köpenick district parliament is causing a stir. In the March session, the Green Party presented its proposal to allow only hybrid and electric propulsion on the Müggelsee from 2025. Petrol and diesel boats would then be banned.
Although the decision was not even discussed at the meeting due to lack of time, and was instead postponed until next month, critics are already getting loud. They criticise the lack of communication between the politicians and the residents and worry about the lack of infrastructure that the project would need. There are no charging stations. For environmental reasons, the water sports clubs are not allowed to install electric cables on the pontoons.
The Greens' initiative is primarily ecologically motivated. Diesel and petrol boats often spill fuel and oil into the water. Wave action also erodes the shore and harms ecological resources such as fish spawn. The wave impact would not be reduced by hybrid and electric boats, but certainly the noise and the combustion residues that are transported through the water to all areas of the lake. The clubs do not see this problem. Already now, boats with combustion engines are only allowed to use the navigation channel, but not the areas near the shore.
The residents also realise that the nature and health of the lake are immensely important for them to be able to continue practising sports and hobbies on the lake. "We do not question the fact that at some point internal combustion engines will gradually be replaced. It's just that everything has to be planned sensibly. A hasty action without prior notice is the completely wrong way to go about it," says the district sports federation.
So the fronts are hardened. Once again, however, this example shows a problem that is common in Germany: lack of communication and participation of the citizens. It has often been shown that decisions that affect citizens locally can only be made with them. Similar to the car-free streets in Charlottenburg, planning with the people at Müggelsee would probably bring much more consensus.
Despite the resistance, the environmental zone on Müggelsee could come. In that case, bans on boats with combustion engines would not be ruled out on other lakes in Berlin or on the Spree.