16 Feb 2023, 13:30
Carolina Kyllmann

German environmental NGOs call out ‘systematic blocking’ of climate protection

Clean Energy Wire

The German government is ‘systematically blocking’ important climate protection measures despite legally binding targets for emission reductions in all sectors, according to a group of environmental associations. Political disagreements between leading parties, and a lack of governmental  initiative have meant that legislation for climate protection is being delayed or presented without enough ambition, said Stefanie Langkamp, head of policy at Climate-Alliance Germany. This includes an emergency climate programme for the transport sector, which needs additional measures; a cross-ministerial emergency climate protection programme (Klimaschutz-Sofortprogramm); and an energy efficiency law. Legislation approvals on the last two were already expected before the end of 2022, but are stuck in a reform backlog of the government’s coalition parties, the Social Democrats (SPD), the pro-business FDP and the Green Party.

Langkamp added that while there has been more progress than ever before in the economy and climate protection ministry (BMWK), it is not enough to meet the German climate targets. At the same time, the transport ministry is moving backwards, she continued. Elisabeth Staudt, energy and climate protection expert at Environmental Action Germany (DUH), said there is already some progress in the building sector but still a lot of room for improvement as well. While heat pump sales are on the rise, the vast majority of German homes are still heated with fossil fuels. Moreover, there is much discussion about legislation to increase the efficiency requirements of new buildings, but requirements for existing buildings need to be considered too. “There are many plans, but there are also many political obstacles that stop them,” Staudt said, adding that Germany needs to introduce legislation that protects tenants and reduces dependency on gas.

Germany’s transport sector exceeded its 2021 emission reductions target by 3.1 million tonnes of CO2 and the buildings sector by 2.5 million tonnes. Both sectors have presented climate programmes to cut emissions by 2030, but especially the transport sector’s proposal was labelled as “lacking in sufficient ambition even at the outset” by government advisors. Germany has set a target to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 65 percent by 2030 compared to 1990 levels. Staudt said the government is currently relying too much on catch-up effects in climate protection, with Langkamp adding that Germany needs to abolish all climate-harmful subsidies. “We need the measures to achieve the 2030 climate targets this year,” she added. Current emission reduction rates are far from sufficient to reach Germany’s 2030 emission reduction target, neither in total nor in the individual sectors, government advisors warned in November 2022.

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