Tip: Activate javascript to be able to use all functions of our website

People impacted by traffic more likely to support mobility transition

Press Release from 2021-01-04 / Group

  • Two thirds of German households back strategies that discourage driving
  • But specific tools such as urban road tolls or higher parking fees find much less acceptance
  • Introducing urban road tolls is favoured by of up to 48.5% of large city residents

Moving towards the goal of climate neutrality requires a rethink in the transport sector. In addition to electrifying transport, discouraging and shifting travel can contribute to achieving climate targets. Moving to sustainable transport is as necessary as it is difficult to implement. A special analysis by the KfW Energy Transition Barometer has revealed the competing interests that are at play here. While a clear majority of 66.4% of German households generally favours a stronger push towards traffic avoidance, specific tools such as urban road tolls or higher parking fees are much less popular. Only 22.9% of German households would support introducing urban road tolls, and a mere 26.4% would endorse higher parking fees.

But the findings also illustrate that the more people feel impacted by traffic, the more they support specific measures. Thus, 42.4% of households that feel severely impacted by pollution support urban road tolls, almost three times as many as those that do not feel impacted (14.9%). This pattern is also consistent with the fact that support for such measures is stronger in cities that are on average more impacted by traffic than in the countryside. Almost one in two households that are affected by pollution and live in a large city favour the introduction of urban road tolls (48.5%). Among households impacted by pollution, other transport policy tools are also much more popular than average, such as higher parking fees (34.6% of those impacted, 17.1% of those not impacted) and expanding 30 km/h zones (64.9% of those impacted, 47.9% of those not impacted).

“The findings of the KfW Energy Transition Barometer show that while households impacted by traffic congestion support many individual transport policy measures, such measures are still not backed by society as a whole. Therefore, the key to a transport policy that successfully contributes to climate action targets lies in balancing the interests of all road users and the groups that are particularly impacted by traffic”, said Dr Fritzi Köhler-Geib, Chief Economist of KfW.

The findings thus reveal a key dilemma of transport policy. The burdens from the secondary effects of transport activities impact the local residents, not the road users. In addition, there are limited policy options to introduce mitigating measures. Even at municipal level, the resulting burdens are concentrated on a percentage of the population, while the tools and measures require legitimation by a democratic majority within the community and society. From an economic perspective, this makes the level of damage inefficiently high.

“In order for the suitable measures to gain the consensus of society, the benefits of the measures must be emphasised more clearly for everyone. At the same time, reservations concerning price tools such as fees and road tolls in particular must be proactively addressed by transparently disclosing how they are priced and how the funds collected are used. Redistributing those funds in a way that benefits as many groups of society as possible can further increase acceptance among the population and ultimately contribute to a climate-neutral transport sector”, said Köhler-Geib.

The current analysis by KfW Research on the topic of the mobility transition can be retrieved from www.kfw.de/fokus

About the KfW Energy Transition Barometer:
For the KfW Energy Transition Barometer, some 4,000 households in Germany are surveyed each year on the topic of energy transition. The study delivers insights about households’ attitudes towards the energy transition as well as on the devices and appliances they use and plan to acquire, and on their motivation for the use and barriers to the purchase of energy transition technologies. The survey is conducted by the infas Institute for Applied Social Sciences on behalf of KfW Research.

To find out more, see www.kfw.de/energiewendebarometer.


Portrait Christine Volk


Christine Volk


+49 69 74 31 38 67


+49 69 74 31 32 66