25 Mar 2024, 13:44
Julian Wettengel

Germany has used up its "fair share" of CO2 emissions for 1.5° limit – govt advisors

Clean Energy Wire

If the global temperature rise is to be limited to 1.5°C, Germany has nearly or fully used up its "fair share" of the remaining global CO2 emissions budget, the German Advisory Council on the Environment (SRU) has said. "It is now inevitable that we are emitting more CO2 than we are entitled to if we take our share of the world's population as a basis," council member Wolfgang Lucht said, adding this raised the question of responsibility for the damage and losses caused by exceeding the target. The SRU said Germany in early 2023 already exceeded its fair share of a global CO2 budget that would allow reaching the 1.5°C limit with a probability of 67 percent. For a temperature limit of 1.75°C with the same probability, Germany could still emit CO2 until around 2037 if it reduced emissions in a linear manner from today onwards, the advisors said.

Germany aims to reach greenhouse gas neutrality by 2045. The SRU has called on the government to base its climate policy on a CO2 budget for some time and today’s paper is an update to previous calculations. However, the government has not accepted the SRU's fair emissions budget approach for German policies and laws. According to the advisors, the cumulative emissions allowed under the country's climate law far exceed Germany's available budget.

There is no uniform agreement on a "fair share" of any remaining emissions budget, as opinions differ for example on how historic responsibility, or allowing emerging and developing countries to catch up economically, would be taken into account. The budget used by SRU has also been criticised in the past for only looking at CO2, not other greenhouse gas emissions, which are also responsible for the global temperature rise. SRU argues CO2 is the most important greenhouse gas in Germany, responsible for almost 90 percent of climate effects of all greenhouse gases. Germany’s constitutional court used the budget approach in its landmark climate ruling, which said the government's climate legislation was insufficient and lacked detail on emission reduction targets beyond 2030.

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