As ministers gather in Potsdam, Germans still fuming over speed-limit idea

The G8 environment ministers are spending two days in Potsdam, Germany, chewing over the world’s post-Kyoto possibilities with their developing-country counterparts. “We are going to speak about the barriers that have until now held back international climate-change negotiations and how to break them,” said German eco-minister Sigmar Gabriel. Who, as it happens, was part of another high-profile convo about breaking barriers this week: When European Union Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas suggested an emissions-curbing speed limit on Germany’s famed Autobahn, drivers bristled at losing their “freedom,” a German auto-industry trade group said the industry needed “no coaching” on protecting the planet, and Gabriel snapped, “This is a … trivialization of the climate problem.” But a recent survey found that 60 percent of respondents would favor Autobahn speed limits if they cut emissions. Said one speedster, “I think anyone with half a brain understands that we all have to change our habits.”