Berlin and Brandenburg want more joint climate protection

style="float: right; margin-bottom: 10px; font-weight: 600;"Tue 11th May, 2021

It is the largest city in the middle of Brandenburg: Berlin. But often enough it is also the biggest blank spot on the maps of the Mark: the city that people in Brandenburg don't know much about. And conversely, the country around Berlin is often a great unknown beyond asparagus farms, castles and other destinations. This could be felt on Monday, when the environmental committees of the Berlin House of Representatives and the Potsdam State Parliament met for a joint session for the first time in this legislative period of the State Parliament: There was a great need for information on both sides. For example, on the subject of water. After all, the capital is dependent on Brandenburg for its water supply. If the Spree is in a bad way, the Berlin waterworks are in a bad way, too. And if the groundwater in the surrounding area goes bad, Berlin's groundwater also goes bad.

"The Berlin water horizon is not independent of Brandenburg," says Brandenburg's Environment Minister Axel Vogel (Greens). "That's why we have to work intensively with Berlin." Berlin's environment senator Regine Günther (Greens) makes a similar point: "The consequences of open-cast lignite mining in Lusatia present us with elementary challenges, for both Berlin and Brandenburg water management."

Due to the ongoing climate change, there are dry phases that make the supply for the entire region difficult. And in the case of sulfate levels, which are also influenced by mining, Berlin is only just below the limits, he said."Our goal is to ensure the quality of drinking water." A coordinated control of the water supply is therefore necessary, he said.It became clear in the meeting, however, above all, how little the delegates of the two states know about each other. Again and again, there were mere questions for information: For example, Thomas Domres, a member of the Left Party in Brandenburg, wanted to know to what extent Berlin was involved in the water-law inspections during the construction of the Tesla factory."We are working well together on this," said Birgit Fritz-Taute, head of department at the Senate Administration. And Daniel Buchholz (SPD), a member of Berlin's parliament, pointed out that the Spree and Havel rivers primarily have a low-water problem.

"If the Havel and Spree dams were not there, the waters would flow backwards," Buchholz said. And suggested talking about some kind of minimum inflow for the two rivers.But Brandenburg's Environment Minister Axel Vogel (Greens) was able to clarify that this has been in place for a long time. "We try to ensure a flow of eight cubic meters per second at the 'Große Tränke' gauge," Vogel said. Currently, 12.6 cubic meters of Spree water per second flowed there to Berlin.

Too little water from the Spree in Saxony

"But we can't guarantee that," the minister said. In past summers of drought, he said, the limits had been reached here - because Brandenburg had also received too little water from the dams on the upper reaches of the Spree in Saxony.It was a similar story with other topics at the joint meeting, such as climate protection. "The transport sector in Berlin has not yet contributed anything to climate protection," said Berlin Senator Günther. "We have to look at how to get commuters on the tracks, with drives that are not fossil."

A first step, they said, was the joint i2030 infrastructure project. Representatives from Brandenburg, however, warned that electricity generation from wind power and photovoltaics in the Mark region is reaching its limits."We have pressure in the area," said Brandenburg representative Johannes Funke (SPD). "That's what we want to bring to you."Setting up new wind turbines is now a difficult undertaking, he said, partly because of local citizens' initiatives, and in the case of solar energy, the state is heading toward the question of whether photovoltaic systems can be set up in protected areas. Environment Minister Vogel nevertheless called for a joint climate protection strategy.

Establishment of joint committee likely unconstitutional

"However, this is currently not covered by the current resolution situation." Berlin's environment senator Günther also saw a need for action: "I think we'll have to move much faster on this - gladly together."At the end of the meeting, the chairman of the Berlin Environment Committee, Oliver Friederici (CDU), suggested that the committees continue to meet once a year. This is also the view of the committee chairman in Brandenburg, Wolfgang Roick (SPD).

In contrast, Thomas Domres, a member of the Left Party, suggested at the end of the meeting that there should be joint specialist working groups with members of both parliaments. "It has already become clear on various occasions today where there is also a hitch in the cooperation between the states and the two state governments," he said.In contrast, the establishment of a joint committee of both state parliaments, as envisaged in the black-red-green Brandenburg coalition agreement, is probably unconstitutional, according to an expert opinion by the Parliamentary Advisory Service of the Potsdam state parliament.

Image by Konevi from Pixabay


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