Fair changes for Berlin

Election platform 2021 Chapter 2

All of Berlin turns into a park

Future vision: Berlin has turned into a paradise - we have no other choice, because the climate crisis is already here. Heat, drought and heavy rain require the restructuring of our city: into one big park. For this, we have implemented a number of measures that experts summarize under the technical term "sponge city". This term refers to a natural climate regulator that stores rainwater and releases it as moist coolness on hot days. This has health benefits and enhances the quality of life in an urban environment. 

An end to concrete deserts: Berlin's concrete areas will be consistently unsealed (over time?). Houses, roofs and streets will be extensively grassed and planted, moorlands restored to its natural state, and urban forests will be protected and expanded. In this way, grassed areas and parks will connect with the city and Berlin will become a major climate metropolis. 

The maintenance of existing trees is also important. Street trees need to be regularly watered and in some cases replanted. We are creating job opportunitiesfor this in the administrative offices. Existing natural environments such as the Tempelhofer Feld are under special protection and must not be devalued into building grounds.

Stop asphalting

Every day, valuable soil is built over, concreted over, asphalted, paved and surfaced. For years, the Federal Environment Agency has been calling for a rethink - fruitlessly. Ending this destruction is our top priority. By law, we are introducing an immediate building ground moratorium. This means: no more sealing. Existing sealing will be systematically recorded and consistently deconstructed. This unsealing program ensures a social, healthy and climate-friendly relationship between green spaces and built-over surfaces in Berlin. Rainwater can finally seep into large areas. Fresh air corridors are activated.

Citizens for trees, trees for citizens

Berlin's transformation is a matter for the community. A functioning urban nature needs the cooperation of administration and urban society. All necessary measures are bundled and implemented competently, efficiently and cost-effectively. For this purpose, laws are adapted, funds are made available, clear responsibilities are defined in the senate and districts, staff is hired and experts are trained. Then off to the neighbourhoods: Berlin's greening will be a celebration of direct democracy. In dialogue and with the participation of the residents, we will tackle urban restructuring together. Our actions bring climate education into the community. They strengthen the local coexistence and form the backbone for a sustainable resilient social community.

Enough with the waste

Let's finally tackle the rubbish problem radically. Waste must be avoided. It must not be a business sector. And it must not be exported simply to shift the problem. We want to bring the federal government, the states and industry to the table to quickly find new regulations that are long overdue. This includes new packaging systems, plastic bans in the entire food sector, deposit systems and an effective recycling system.

The existing Senate's zero-waste approach needs more traction and must be cast in justiciable ordinances. Here, too, the motto is: rather acting than talking. With us, there will be no more littered streets, squares and parks. Willful littering of our city will be consistently penalised.

Breathable air

Every year, more than 80,000 people die in Germany as a result of air pollution. The legal threshold values are regularly exceeded in Berlin as well. Urban redevelopment, traffic reduction and unsealing of the soil provide a considerable improvement here. With a new law, we introduce the recommended air pollution threshold of the World Health Organisation (WHO) for Berlin. They will be monitored throughout the city with the help of air monitoring stations, with the data being scientifically evaluated. Exceeding them leads to appropriate compensatory measures in the interest of people, health and the environment.

Water for life

Our water calls for more attention, too. Since Berlin's drinking water is partly obtained from the bank filtrate of the Spree, coal mining in the Lusatia region poses a massive threat to its quality. For years, water from other sources has had to be added in order to comply with the legal thresholds for heavy metals. Politicians have so far kept quiet about the dramatic consequences for all of us. We are changing that. Together with the federal government, Brandenburg and industry stakeholders we are developing a step-by-step plan to safeguard Berlin's drinking water. Prices can only be kept stable through determined action. In this context, Berlin's sewage treatment system will also be brought up to date. We ensure the comprehensive expansion of the fourth purification stage, which removes pharmaceutical residues from the water.

Energy: from the people for the people

Transition towards 100 % Renewable

With us, Berlin is committed to self-sufficiency with 100 % renewable energy. The Senate's hesitation so far has delayed the implementation of the energy transition. This results in higher costs for us and future generations. We are changing this: with a holistic planning approach, coordinated administrative structures, a discourse involving society as a whole, and regional and supraregional cooperation. We have no time to lose. Because our remaining CO2 budget is getting smaller every day.

Berlin has good energy

We are creating the proper framework for 100% renewable electricity in 2030 and 100% renewable heat by 2035 at the latest. Since Berlin is not allowed to produce any net emissions for the 1.5° limit from 2030 onwards, we will recapture emissions locally in the transition years, relying on natural processes and sinks such as forests, meadows and moorlands. Fossil fuels must be replaced as soon as possible. This issue of climate justice is our top priority. Therefore, immediately after the election, we will have the most promising renewable heat potentials in the city independently analysed and immediately initiate implementation. In doing so, rapid and efficient realisation will take precedence over commercial interests. High hopes for green hydrogen must not become a reason for continuing to burn fossil natural gas or dirty hydrogen, considering the alternatives that are already available today. Dependence ("lock-in") on such uncertain energy sources must be avoided at all costs.

Energy transition from the bottom

The energy transition is a task for society as a whole. Everyone should be able to participate and benefit equally. Bans and obligations alone are not nearly enough. We know: Decentralised renewable energies are the chance for a fundamental shift away from an undemocratic, profit-oriented and climate-damaging energy supply as we have it today. That is why we consistently give people living in Berlin the opportunity to get involved in the planning, financing, implementation and operation of energy transition projects through participation. In addition, we actively approach people so that they can take advantage of this opportunity across all levels of society.

Produce and supply your own electricity

You become an electricity supplier

The production of heat and electricity from renewable energies offers the chance for a fundamental democratisation of tomorrow's energy supply. By 2030, we want to generate solar energy on every rooftop in Berlin together with all Berliners. Solar energy promotion and mandatory photovoltaic installation through appropriate legal regulations for new and existing buildings in all sectors are core goals for us. In particular, we want to support tenant electricity projects and completely dismantle the previous financial disadvantages and complicated approval procedures. In addition, we promote the cooperative and private-sector upgrading of new areas for photovoltaics, for example in industrial zones or on commercial and military wasteland.

Strengthening the municipal energy utility and citizens' energy

A strong municipal energy utility is the best prerequisite for the direct participation of citizens in Berlin's energy transition. We will develop the municipal energy utility into a central and competent partner for cooperative, private and public energy transition projects. Berlin's economy will also benefit from this. The further required energy infrastructure is to be completely transferred back to municipal self-administration with a serious intention to offer the participation of the citizens of Berlin.

Building with moderation and purpose

Avoiding new construction

Buildings are an important factor in resource and climate protection. Construction and housing consume a lot of energy and cause enormous greenhouse gas emissions: through the production of steel, cement and bricks, through heating and electricity consumption. We are convinced that there is an alternative approach. New construction must become the exception. And if necessary, then it must be built to the passive house standard. Continued construction and conversion have priority. Urban development will start with what is already there. Quite rightly, the "Association of German Architects" is calling for a rethinking under the motto "creative omission". In the future, the entire climate impact of raw materials, including production and transport, should be taken into account in all building projects that are nevertheless to be carried out. For this purpose, targeted subsidies must be set up and laws, guidelines and approval procedures simplified. Here, too, politics has missed the boat, because the technology has long been developed and the motivation is already there. This is where we come in: We promote strong partners for a climate-friendly building culture.

Turning old into modern

Berlin's old buildings must be modernized to reduce our energy needs. More than a 50 percent increase in efficiency is possible. We want to increase, simplify and more effectively advertise subsidy programs for energy-efficient renovation of existing buildings. So that they are finally understandable and used in the right places. Renovation requires sensitivity in terms of historic preservation as well as logistical and technical intelligence. We are overcoming the old either/or confrontation and ensuring that climate protection and historic preservation complement each other. Climate-friendly building and insulation materials are used, and their raw materials, production, transport and processing must be taken into account. The installation of climate-damaging gas and oil heating systems must end immediately. This can be achieved with new district heating concepts and a stronger focus of subsidy programs on the use of environmental heat. The key point for us is that rents remain stable despite energy-efficient renovation.

Protecting tenants

Last but not least, climate protection means reflecting on individual lifestyles and, where possible, adapting them in the interests of all. On average, every Berlin resident lives in 40 square meters of space - almost twice as much space as 40 years ago. If we think about the climate, living space means: electricity, heating, building materials, maintenance, and sealed nature. A larger living space per person leads to more resource consumption and more ecological consequential damage and pushes us outside the planetary boundaries.

We want to enter into a dialogue with the people of the city in order to find means and possibilities of a redistribution that is equally appropriate for the climate and for personal needs. This is about the right strategies and participation structures. It is about strengthening the living communities in the neighborhoods and expanding the rights of all renters. One of the instruments for sensible measurement of living space sizes could be a per-capita budget linked to energy requirements, which would function analogously to a personal CO2 budget: it would be priced if exceeded, and rewarded in the form of a bonus if not exceeded, for example by sharing living space. For this living space budget, we want to introduce an average guideline value of around 30 m² per person into the debate as a proposal from an ecological perspective. It is crucial to embed these measures: they must be introduced in consensus with the urban community, need appropriate transition periods, and must take into account the income of the respective renters.

We ensure that all people in the city can find adequate housing. Many Berlin residents need a larger or smaller apartment. For this purpose, we are setting up a public, free apartment exchange. Commercial interests and brokerage commissions will have no place there. We will ensure a legal framework that guarantees that landlords are not allowed to change the terms of an existing lease without good reason, such as a necessary modernization.

Ending displacement

In addition, there are a number of accompanying instruments with which we strengthen the neighborhoods as a whole and make displacement impossible. The expansion of the district's milieu protection protects the housing stock and the social mix in the neighborhood. There is a general ban on speculative luxury redevelopment and conversion to condominiums. Gentrification fuels segregation and alienates members of society from one another. We implement a consistent remunicipalisation of privatized holdings of real estate corporations, in line with the demands of the citizens' initiative Expropriate Deutsche Wohnen und Co.. Of course, new housing should continue to be built. However, the focus here is on the existing stock. Therefore, we also advocate the preservation of alternative housing projects, youth facilities and ways of life in Berlin. Skillful conversion of large residential units and former office space, additions of storeys and conversion of attic spaces are given priority for approval.

Despite the failure of the rent cap at the state level as a whole, there is an opportunity to make the conditions of the MietenWoG legally binding for the 330,000 units of the state-owned housing companies. We will take this step in the right direction quickly. The federal and state governments must act together for the benefit of the people. That is why we are committed to a nationwide rent cap.

Revive non-profit status, promote tenant participation

Article 28 of Berlin's constitution grants all citizens a "right to adequate housing". In view of the plight of many Berlin tenants, there is an urgent need to revise and actively shape the legal framework for housing and the associated land rights at the state and federal level. The ownership of municipal and future remunicipalized properties is unsatisfactorily resolved. Their future management in state-owned housing companies is to be carried out in principle according to the criteria of the housing non-profit status abolished in 1990, which is to be reintroduced in an expanded form for this purpose: In addition to capping the profit margin at 4%, full reinvestment of profits in the existing housing stock and energy-efficiency upgrades, and a temporary share of up to 65% in subsidized housing, the commitment period in subsidized housing construction will also be waived. Stocks will thus be held permanently and inalienably by state-owned companies.

The term "public welfare-oriented" currently in circulation is misleading, as it is an indeterminate legal term without a clear definition. We also need an intensive dialogue with smaller players in the housing market, such as cooperatives, foundations or the apartment-house syndicate. The aim here is to build on positive experiences and, if necessary, transfer them to other portfolios. In general, the goal of all our strategic considerations is: We strengthen the co-determination of tenants, promote their identification with their place of residence and neighborhood, and ensure the long-term maintenance of our housing stock. Housing must no longer be traded as a commodity.

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