Protests against the Frankfurt Motor Show

Thousands of demonstrators protested on Saturday against the Frankfurt Motor Show. Climate protection activists blocked several entrances to the venue on Sunday. At last the power of the car industry is being called into question, some commentators comment gleefully. Others call for a more objective approach to environmental protection.

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taz, die tageszeitung (DE) /

Climate protection is a must

The demonstrators have put the topic of climate protection firmly on the transportation agenda, the taz writes in delight:

“In recent weeks journalists have been unable to write about the IAA without reporting on all the flak it was taking. ... Even the German government can no longer simply wait for things to blow over. ... The days when carmakers sat back and raked in the profits are over. ... People are slowly starting to realise that it's time for a complete revision in the transportation sector. In view of all the scams and scandals in the car industry it's rather late for that, but the topic won't disappear from the agenda any time soon.”

Lidové noviny (CZ) /

Ideology leads to misguided decisions

Lidové noviny calls for more rationality in the climate and car debate:

“The protests at the Frankfurt Motor Show reinforce the impression that fanaticism is gaining the upper hand against rationality. If CO2 neutrality really is the priority, what is the point of Germany switching off its nuclear power plants instead of its coal or gas power plants? In rational terms one would have to conclude that it should be the other way around. But nuclear power is vilified. Too much ideology, too little science. This should also be a lesson for our pupils and students: Let us choose reason over ideology.”

Denik (CZ) /

Thrilling things the world doesn't need

The rise in production of SUVs demonstrates one of capitalism's basic flaws, Denik writes:

“Must we really drive through the city in tank-like vehicles that belong in the dunes of the Sahara? Must we drive huge vehicles that consume more than normal cars, are more damaging to the climate and therefore disadvantageous to their owners? The problem is that people want SUVs. Demand is rising, and manufacturers - including Škoda - release new models on the market every year. Buyers aren't logical: they're ready to buy new mobile phones just because they have a better camera than their old one. Consumers are willing to pay for things they don't need. Capitalism creates wealth through the ceaseless production of useless things that make people happy. We should really rethink this whole approach.”

Die Welt (DE) /

A sector that needs to justify itself

This year's IAA highlights what a sorry state the car industry is in, writes Die Welt:

“The trade fair is struggling with a mass defection of exhibitors. ... Tesla has only made a couple of cars available for test drives while Peugeot and Ferrari didn't turn up at all. And even the German carmakers - the biggest members of the German Association of the Automotive Industry and co-organisers of the event - have drastically reduced the size of their stands. ... Yet now more than ever, the industry needs to inspire enthusiasm for its products and ideas among the masses. And to do that it must do a lot more than just embrace its critics: it must shape the transformation. Over the next few days it has the chance to show in Frankfurt that it can do just that.”

Der Standard (AT) /

Public transport instead of e-cars

Although they're the main focus of the trade fair e-cars won't solve the looming environmental and traffic problems, Der Standard argues:

“As far as the environment is concerned, e-mobility poses a problem already in the production phase. That said, clean electricity wouldn't be the biggest problem - at least in Austria. ... Problems like the use of space, traffic jams at rush hour or the overwhelming preponderance of drivers alone in vehicles haven't been factored in here. So the solution to our problems probably still lies in the expansion of public transport rather than in electric cars.”

Deutschlandfunk (DE) /

Banish cars from the cities

A fundamental change of direction is needed in transport policy, Deutschlandfunk urges:

“After 30 years of standstill when it comes to CO2 emissions the transport industry must finally do its bit for climate protection. And yes, that poses a threat to our lifestyle. If necessary it will require more flexibility in our already stressful daily life. ... The Federal Minister of Transport must create spaces in the road traffic system that allow for more radical moves than simply creating more bike lanes. And the mayors of big urban areas must use these spaces to banish the car from the cities. The interests of the car industry should be taken less into account in this gigantic, socio-political undertaking than they have been up to now.”