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17 Aug 2021, 13:43
Kerstine Appunn

Climate effect of action programme in German buildings sector questionable – expert council

Clean Energy Wire

A first attempt to reduce excess emissions in Germany's buildings sector by launching an additional home energy refurbishment support programme is likely to be insufficient, according to the Council of Experts on Climate Change. Following the rules of the Climate Action Law, the energy ministry (BMWi) and the ministry for the interior (BMI) in July this year presented an “immediate action programme” detailing how the 2 million tonnes of CO2 emitted by the buildings sector on top of its 2020 budget of 118 million tonnes can be reduced within the next years. The BMWi said in an e-mailed statement that a draft by the expert council tasked with the evaluation of emission data and climate action measures found that the “assumptions and evaluations submitted in the immediate action programme had a tendency to overestimate their effect”. The final version of the expert council’s evaluation is expected next week.

The measure proposed by the BMWi and BMI in July is to increase the funds in the “Federal Promotion of Efficient Buildings (BEG)" programme by another 5.8 billion euros. The programme is running very successfully, the BMWi said, having granted a record 6.1 billion euros for new energy efficient housing and refurbishments in the first half of 2021. But the environment ministry overseeing sectoral compliance with the Climate Action Law has argued that this doesn’t ensure the sector will stay within its annual emission budgets for the coming years and demanded that the action plan be adapted. The BMWi, on the other hand, stated that the Climate Action Law's wording is unclear “because it doesn’t say by when or within what time an identified CO2 reduction gap must be closed”. Both the interpretation of the law and the decision whether the buildings sector's immediate action programme is sufficient will have to be taken by the government cabinet.

German homes are a big hurdle on the path to greenhouse gas neutrality, as they are responsible for around one-third of the country’s emissions. Nearly two-thirds are still heated with fossil fuels and most of them also need to be modernised to lower energy demand.

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