30 Sep 2020, 13:15
Kerstine Appunn

German heating emissions cut almost entirely down to warmer weather – study

CO2 emissions from residential heating in Germany have fallen by 21 percent since 2010, but only by 2.6 percent when figures are adjusted for outside temperatures, according to the annual “Heating Monitor” study by the German Institute for Economic Research (DIW) based on data from energy service provider Ista. Emission reductions in the sector are largely due to warmer winters, yet they have not fallen enough for Germany to reach its 2030 climate targets, researchers found. “The reduction of 21 percent is hardly due to improving building efficiency. So there is no reason to scale back our efforts to reduce emissions," said DIW economist Jan Stede.

The report also found that energy efficiency improvements in residential buildings are almost stagnating and too low to achieve climate targets in the buildings sector. The government’s plan had been to increase the home insulation rate to 2 percent annually. Instead, only 1 percent was achieved, the researchers note. They suggest that a higher support rate for home insulation and the implementation of the CO2 price in 2021 could create additional incentives to invest more.

Green party energy and efficiency spokesperson Julia Verlinden called the report “sobering” and said the federal government was either “doing too little or simply the wrong things.” She added: “What is needed now is an offensive for renewable heat and more investment in the energy-efficient renovation of neighbourhoods and individual buildings.”

The annually updated heat monitor is based on the heating bills of around 300,000 multi-party houses recorded by the energy service provider Ista Deutschland. German homes' high use of fossil energy is a big hurdle on the path to greenhouse gas neutrality. Nearly two thirds still heat with fossil fuels, and most of them also need to be modernised to lower energy demand. The  government is working to extend the energy transition to buildings with a ban on new oil-fired heating and tax incentives for renovations and low-emission technologies. It aims to have a 'nearly' climate neutral building stock by 2050 after emissions in the sector have stagnated for nearly a decade.

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