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Germany to miss 2020 climate goal: report

February 6, 2019

Barring radical change, Germany will not reach the goal it set itself for reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 2020. Cars and buildings are to blame, the report said.

A German flag flies as emissions come out of a chimney
Image: picture-alliance/dpa

Germany will likely fall well short of its targets for greenhouse gas reduction by 2020, a climate protection report released by the government on Wednesday concluded.

While the main conclusion of the report was made public in November, the release of the 147-page report comes as the German government is renewing debate among itself and with industry leaders about the best courses of action to take to reduce its greenhouse emissions.

Key points

  • In 2002 Germany agreed that by 2020, greenhouse gas emissions would drop 40 percent from 1990-levels. But it now seems it will only achieve a 32 percent reduction.
  • The energy sector will likely decrease its emissions by 2020, partly due to EU reforms, but this will be offset by increased emissions from vehicles and buildings.
  • 110 emission-cutting measures will only cut out 43-56 million tons of CO2 by 2020, rather than the 62-78 million tons originally calculated.
  • The report does not take into consideration airline and land forestry emissions, per the Kyoto Protocol.
  • The new report reached the same conclusion on expected gas reduction as the 2017 climate report did.

More 'courage' in climate policy

The spokesman for Angela Merkel's government, Steffen Seibert, said the government seconded the report's emphasis that the 40 percent target must "be reached as quickly as possible."

Environment Minister Svenja Schulze called for more "courage" and binding regulation in climate policies: "When it comes to climate protection, in the past years Germany as whole has not been on course to reach its goals, despite some improvements in the energy sector."

The World Wildlife Fund (WWF), the international environmental organization, accused the German government of having done "little to nothing" to slow global warming, which greenhouse gases cause.

German cars in traffic on the highway
Image: Getty Images/S. Gallup

Read more: Bye bye lignite: Understanding Germany's coal phaseout

Why is the report's timing important?

Germany has come under increased pressure from environmentalists at home and from others at the EU and global levels to improve its environmental policies, and in particular to do more to slash its greenhouse gas emissions.

Recently, a government-appointed commission announced that the country will end energy production from coal-fired power plants by 2038 in order to cut CO2 emissions, but the country now has to figure how to wind down production without major energy and price disruptions.

Additionally, a recent initiative to impose a speed limit on currently unregulated highways in order to reduce auto emissions failed.

What other climate goals exist?

  • By 2030, Germany is supposed to slash its emissions by 55 percent in comparison to 1990-levels.
  • The ruling coalition of Merkel's conservatives and the Social Democrats agreed in their 2018 government deal that they would come up with measures to put Germany reliably on track to meet its 2030 goals.

cmb/aw (AFP, dpa)

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