08 Nov 2023, 13:47
Benjamin Wehrmann

Industry and environmental experts warn against watering down Germany's sector climate targets

Clean Energy Wire

Industry representatives and environmental groups have warned the German government against scrapping key components of the country’s Climate Action Law in a planned reform. Strict sectoral responsibility for emissions reduction is particularly important, said the German Association of Energy and Water Industries (BDEW) ahead of an expert hearing in parliament on the issue. “The energy industry cannot compensate for the shortcomings in other sectors when it comes to reaching the climate targets,” BDEW head Kerstin Andreae said. “The energy industry is on track and reliably delivers on CO2 reduction targets.”  Andreae stressed that this reliability was the result of an “enormous effort” in the sector, adding that targets for energy producers were particularly ambitious. “We are working on the verge of what is technically and financially feasible given the time frame,” she argued.  ”We expect other sectors to equally live up to their responsibilities.” Weakening sectoral targets by introducing an approach that looks at total emissions “comes with considerable risks for climate protection”, she said. “There needs to be clear responsibilities that are linked to concrete measures in order to make the targets more binding,” Andreae stated, adding that some might regard government plans as a “carte blanche” to moderate their efforts.

NGO Environmental Action Germany (DUH), which was also invited to speak at the hearing, said the reform could amount to a “gutting” of the Climate Action Law. DUH head Sascha Müller-Kraenner accused the reform of being aimed at  “hiding repeated breaches of law by the government”, especially in the transport sector. DUH said the reform would run counter to a landmark ruling by the country’s constitutional court that obliged the government to spell out concrete emissions reduction targets even for the years after 2030. The move would mean that “Germany finally waves goodbye to the Paris Climate Agreement and loses all credibility regarding climate policy at the international level”, Müller-Kraenner argued. He urged members of parliament to reject the reform and “save the centrepiece of German climate policy”.

The government coalition aims to abolish immediate obligations stemming from the Climate Action Law if a sector misses its annual emissions reduction target. The main idea is that the full federal government will be responsible for compliance with targets. All sectors combined will have to reach their aggregated target, so that a miss in one sector can be compensated through overshooting in another sector. Experts have warned that even if Germany reaches aggregated targets in the future, it could still face costly target misses at EU level if efforts in some sectors do not suffice. The transport and buildings sectors both missed their targets in 2022.

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