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21 Oct 2019, 13:09
Benjamin Wehrmann

Carbon budget: Germany's government dodges climate action's key figure – researcher

Spiegel Online

[Correction: Stefan Rahmstorf is head of the department for Earth System Analysis at the PIK, not the leader of the whole institution.]

The remaining carbon budget available to Germany and indeed the whole world under the terms of the Paris Climate Agreement is a crucial component of any government's climate policy – but Chancellor Angela Merkel's administration has repeatedly dodged mentioning "climate action's most important figure" in its climate package announcements, writes physicist Stefan Rahmstorf, head of the department for earth system analysis at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Research (PIK) in a guest article for Spiegel Online. If global warming was to be limited to about 1.5 degrees Celsius, mankind would have had a remaining budget of 580 billion tonnes of CO2 at the beginning of 2018, Rahmstorf says. Even if they were fully adhered to, Germany's climate targets mean that the country would emit another 13 billion tonnes until 2050 - a share of the remaining budget which is about twice the size of Germany's share of the global population (1.1 percent). "How does Germany's government justify its claim to having this disproportionate CO2 output?," Rahmstorf asks, arguing that the government chooses to avoid talking about these figures due to it lacking an answer.

The German climate targets stipulate that carbon emissions fall by 55 percent compared to 1990 levels by 2030, 70 percent by 2040 and that the country becomes completely climate-neutral by 2050. The reduction target for 2020 of 40 percent will likely be widely missed by a margin of 7 percentage points, according to government estimates. The new climate package is meant to ensure that future targets are met, but, according to critics, these are set too low anyway and fulfilment is by no means guaranteed through the package's measures.

 

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