05 Oct 2023, 15:15

Germany’s climate action programme 2023

The German government in October adopted the final version of its long-due comprehensive climate action programme to put the country on track to reaching its 2030 climate targets. With a delay of several months due to fights within the ruling coalition of Social Democrats, Green Party and Free Democrats, the programme says that even with the package, Germany is still faced with a gap to reducing emissions enough. This factsheet summarises key elements of the programme. [UPDATE: cabinet adopts final programme]

Germany’s government cabinet on 4 October agreed the final version of the long-awaited climate action programme to put the country on track to reach 2030 greenhouse gas reduction targets set in the Climate Action Law. A first draft of the package of policy proposals, initiatives and legislation was presented in June.

“In almost all sectors, i.e. in the energy sector, transport, industry, the building sector, waste management, agriculture and land use and forestry, there is an urgent need for action in the coming years in view of the inadequate emission reductions in the past and the therefore foreseeable failure to meet the German and European climate protection targets in the coming years,” says the programme.

The pace of emission reductions would have to more than double or even tripple overall in the coming few years with a view to the 2030 climate target to reduce overall greenhouse gas emissions by 65 percent, compared to 1990 levels, and to reach the target for climate neutrality by 2045, it states.

The proposed measures are introduced to close the gap towards reaching greenhouse gas reduction targets until 2030, and help reach targets in the years beyond. However, the government says that even with this programme fully implemented, there is a projected cumulative gap to reaching climate targets by 2030 of about 200 million tonnes CO2 equivalents – most of this in the transport sector. Germany's total emissions in 2022 were 746 million tonnes. That means that additional efforts will be necessary, says the government, and adds that the “responsibility lies with the entirety of the government,” but that all ministries must contribute, especially those responsible for the sectors that are most to blame for the shortfall.

The coalition parties initially agreed to present a climate action programme by the end of 2022, which would lay out the country’s transformation roadmap for all sectors for the period until 2030 and is supposed to put Germany on track to reach its climate targets. However, the programme was delayed for months as the coalition parties fought over key climate policy drafts, such as the de-facto ban of conventional fossil fuel heaters, the reform of the climate action law or proposals on how to clean up the transport sector.

Several of the elements of the programme have already been implemented or at least pushed forward since the government took office in late 2021, such as the reform of the Renewable Energy Act (EEG) to formalise new expansion targets, wind power legislation, and amendments to the nature protection law.

Reform of the Climate Action Law

The government proposed a reform of the climate action law, which is set to be decided in parliament in the last quarter of 2023 

  • 2030, 2040 and 2045 climate targets remain
  • if annual emissions budgets are missed or overshot, the difference will be added/subtracted in equal parts to the remaining years until 2030
  • Annual emissions reduction targets for each sector remain on paper, but missing target no longer stipulates immediate proposal of measures to get sector back on track
  • Instead, projected aggregated emissions for all sectors until 2030 is guideline: If for two years in a row projections data show cumulative emissions in the years until 2030 exceed targets, government will decide programme of measures in all sectors, “especially those responsible for target miss”
  • Government will decide target for technical negative emissions 2035, 2040 and 2045 (such as direct air capture and carbon storage – DACCS)

Energy industries

  • Speed up renewables expansion to reach 80-percent-share of power consumption by 2030, largely decarbonised electricity supply by 2035
    • Renewable Energy Act reform with new capacity targets for 2030 (onshore wind: 115 GW, solar PV: 215 GW), and principle that the use of renewable energies is of overriding public interest
    • Onshore wind power reforms to ensure 2 percent of Germany’s surface area will be reserved for onshore wind power by 2032
    • Offshore wind power law reform raises 2030 capacity target to 30 GW, (40 GW 2040, 70 GW 2045) speeds up planning and permit procedures
    • Change to species protection rules allow more wind power expansion
    • Facilitation of grid expansion by making planning and construction easier/faster, aligning it with 2045 climate neutrality goal
  • Reform of coal exit law to pull forward phase-out in the Rhenish mining area to 2030
  • Continue + develop energy research programme



  • Measures to decarbonise industry
    • More funds for support programmes, e.g. for energy-intensive industries with hard-to-avoid emissions (steel, cement, chemical)
    • Carbon Contracts for Difference (CCfD)  - or climate contracts - to incentivise the switch to climate-friendly production processes
    • Carbon Management Strategy (CMS) to describe role of CCS/CCU (in 2nd half of 2023)
    • Hydrogen projects (IPCEI)
    • Concept for label for climate-friendly basic materials
  • Support for large-scale electrolysers to reach target of 10 GW by 2030
  • tax credits and support for businesses
  • Further develop IPCEI on battery cell production


  • Present proposal to adapt taxes on fuels based on climate effect (no details yet)
  • Overhaul of masterplan charging infrastructure
  • Support programme for commercial and local community electric car fleets
  • increasingly mandate that new vehicles in car-sharing fleets must be climate-neutral
  • Strengthen rail transport
    • Finance rail modernisation investments through new truck toll
    • Target: rail freight transport 25 percent market share by 2030
  • Present e-fuels strategy to help adapt framework to allow for ramp up of climate-friendly fuels, especially e-fuels
  • Adjusting truck toll from 2024 to take into account CO2 emissions (€200 per tonne CO2); no toll for emission-free trucks until end of 2025 (then 25%)
  • Establish basic charging grid for battery-electric trucks along motorways

Agriculture, LULUCF

Other measures

  • Comprehensive reform of energy levies and taxes and align with greenhouse gas neutrality target
  • Present reform concept on reducing climate-damaging subsidies, including definition
  • Energy Efficiency Law with a target for energy use in 2030 (2045) – also to implement EU Energy Efficiency Directive reform
  • Introduce “climate check” to ensure that all legislation is in line with climate targets
  • Introduce "social monitoring of climate action" to analyse distributional effects when measures are developed
  • Make federal administration climate neutral by 2030
  • Speed up planning and permit procedures for energy, industry and transport infrastructure
  • Skilled workers strategy for more workers in climate action
  • update of National Hydrogen Strategy
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