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19 Aug 2020, 13:50
Alex Dziadosz Julian Wettengel

Germany would not reach 2020 climate target without pandemic – govt report

Clean Energy Wire

The coronavirus crisis could mean Germany reaches its target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent between 1990 and 2020, according to the government’s 2019 climate protection report. However, without the pandemic’s effects, the additional climate action measures that were introduced over the past years to close a projected gap of several million tonnes of CO₂ equivalents would have been insufficient. “The gap that was projected before the pandemic started could not be closed with these,” the report states. In a statement, environment minister Svenja Schulze said that the government had “learned the right lessons from past failures.” She added that: “With the climate action law, we have ensured that our climate policy is binding, transparent and verifiable.”

The report takes a closer look at how effective additional measures that were decided as part of the Climate Action Programme in 2014 have been and how emissions may evolve by the end of this year. However, the projection for 2020 does not yet take into account the effects of the coronavirus pandemic. Instead, it is based on two reports published in March (here and here), which also formed the basis for the recently published German national energy and climate plan (NECP). Whether Germany actually reaches its greenhouse gas reduction targets in all economic sectors in 2020 will only become clear once the Environment Agency (UBA) publishes the first estimates for this year’s emissions in March 2021. The government is also set to publish its next medium term emissions projections around the same time.

The assessment that the 2020 target is likely be reached is in line with recent estimates about the coronavirus effects by researchers from the Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change (MCC). The crisis combined with favourable conditions in the electricity sector has led to a significant reduction of greenhouse gas emissions in the first half of 2020. Renewables covered about half of Germany’s power consumption in this period, as coal production plummeted. Overall energy use could drop by up to 12 percent if the pandemic leads to another economic lockdown situation, energy market research group AG Energiebilanzen (AGEBsaid recently.

As the report was published, an alliance of civil society actors called for Germany to tighten up its climate change measures by 2030, pointing out the role of the pandemic and a mild winter in lowering energy consumption. “An economic crisis does not make structural change,” Kai Niebert, president of the umbrella group Deutscher Naturschutzring (DNR), said in a statement. 

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