Germany's emission cut is “joyful but clouded New Year’s message” – commentaries
Clean Energy Wire
German media have commented on the news that a sharp drop in coal use put a break on Germany's CO2 emissions last year and pushed the country "surprisingly” close to its 2020 climate target.
“The joyful New Year’s message is a little clouded,” writes Verena Gonsch in an opinion for public broadcaster NDR. Transport and buildings had contributed nothing to the emissions reductions. “In the transport sector, there is a clear culprit for the poor climate footprint: it is the heavy SUVs that have become a real road blockbuster. And in the building sector there is still a lack of renovation and insulation of old buildings.”
Michael Bauchmüller writes in Süddeutsche Zeitung that, until now, Germany has picked the low-hanging fruit. Climate action in the power sector was relatively easy to organise: “The addressees were not many millions of citizens, for example in their capacity as tenants or drivers, but a handful of electricity companies and their employees,” writes Bauchmüller. Every next climate target will be harder to reach than the last, he adds.
The emissions reduction is the success of liberal market economy concepts, as it is almost exclusively based on the effects of the EU Emissions Trading System (ETS), writes Daniel Wetzel in an opinion piece in Welt Online. “A cold, economic concept triumphs in climate protection over the ethos policy that is loved and lived in this country,” he writes. Politicians had long criticised the ETS as ineffective. “The exorbitant misjudgement of emissions trading as the most effective and efficient instrument in climate protection shows that we should not allow ourselves to be talked into ideologically motivated bans on thinking.”
Germany recorded a significant decrease in total greenhouse gas emissions last year due to a sharp drop in coal use, but CO2 output in transport and buildings rose, wrote energy think tank Agora Energiewende* in its 2019 review. Overall, emissions decreased by more than 50 million tonnes CO₂ equivalents to about 811 million tonnes, which translates into a 35 percent reduction since 1990 and “surprisingly” brings the country within reach of its 2020 target of minus 40 percent, wrote Agora.
*Like the Clean Energy Wire, Agora Energiewende is a project funded by Stiftung Mercator and the European Climate Foundation.