Fridays for Future study on net-zero 2035 lacks plausible pathways – energy agency
Energy experts and politicians have criticised a study on CO₂ neutrality in Germany by 2035 commissioned by the Fridays for Future climate activist movement. The claim that Germany can be CO₂-neutral by 2035 lacks proof, said German Energy Agency (dena) head Andreas Kuhlmann. The study is at risk of standing in the way of the debate about setting the right framework for the transition because it contains requirements that are hardly achievable, said Kuhlmann. “Unfortunately, it lacks plausible pathways to implement these requirements,” for example an immediate building renovation rate of four percent per year or the large-scale import of climate-neutral hydrogen. Dena is also working on a study on climate neutrality, as is the energy think tank Agora Energiewende*.
The study shows that climate neutrality by 2035 is in fact impossible, said Lukas Köhler, climate policy spokesperson of the pro-business Free Democrats in federal parliament. “Even if the authors do not want to admit it directly, it is clear in many places that they themselves lack the imagination of how such an ambitious goal as climate neutrality in Germany by 2035 could be achieved.” Köhler added that it is “a bad joke” that the study sees the availability of negative-emission technologies as too uncertain.
NGO Germanwatch, meanwhile, welcomed the study as “a starting point for a long-overdue debate.” It is good that the “race is on about who gets the most feasible and socially compatible 1.5°C scenario on the way,” said the organisation’s policy director Christoph Bals on Twitter.
German representatives from Fridays for Future have published a study saying that CO₂ neutrality by 2035 is “extremely challenging” from a technical and economic standpoint, albeit possible. For Germany to do its part to limit the global temperature rise to 1.5°C – assuming a remaining emissions budget of 4.2 gigatonnes of CO₂ from 2020 – the country would have to be CO₂-neutral by about 2035, says the study, which was written by the renowned Wuppertal Institute for Climate, Environment and Energy. It does not look at other greenhouse gases, such as methane, and points out that the German government’s current climate targets are insufficient to limit temperature rise to 1.5°C. It says solar and wind power would have to be expanded by 25 to 30 gigawatts per year, depending on how much climate-neutral energy could be imported. It also argues that personal transport has to be reduced significantly, that new industry installations would from now on have to be compatible with greenhouse gas-neutral production, and that a circular economy would have to be implemented fast.
*Like the Clean Energy Wire, Agora Energiewende is a project funded by Stiftung Mercator and the European Climate Foundation.