Ministry projections highlight risk of Germany missing emissions goal

Only in a best case scenario will Germany be able to reach its goal to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent by 2020, the latest projections from the environment ministry show according to analysts. The opposition in parliament and environmentalists reiterated calls on the government to take more decisive steps to cut emissions.

Germany remains at risk of missing the government’s 2020 greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction target even when taking into account the set of measures agreed in late 2014 under the Climate Action Programme, indicates a report published by the environment ministry. With the “Projection Report 2015”, the German government informs the European Union about possible scenarios for Germany’s emissions over the coming 20 years.

“The figures show: With a quick and ambitious implementation of the over 100 measures a reduction of greenhouse gas emissions between 37 and 40.4 percent compared to 1990 can be achieved,” the ministry said in a press release. Without the additional measures only 32 to 35 percent would have been possible. Different assumptions on economic growth, energy prices and power exports were the reason for the spread of the projections. Between 1990 and 2015, emissions had been reduced by 27 percent.

Environment minister Barbara Hendricks said in the press release that the report showed that Germany must keep up efforts on climate protection. “That is true for all sectors from transport and agriculture to the continuing expansion of renewable energy. We will monitor the developments closely. If necessary, the federal government must readjust in time,” she said.

The report comes as the government struggles to finalise its long-promised Climate Action Plan 2050, which had been announced as a framework to fulfil the pledges from the Paris Agreement Germany ratified just days ago. Experts have long warned that the country of the Energiewende – the dual move to phase-out nuclear power and decarbonise the economy – might miss its own climate goals.

Environmental groups call for “massive efforts”

The scenario report underscored once more that “massive efforts” across all sectors were necessary to meet the targets, Tobias Pforte-von Randow, expert on German climate policy at Germanwatch told the Clean Energy Wire. The report showed that “in only one – extremely engineered – scenario” Germany was to reach its 40-percent target by 2020”, he said. The only short-term effective measure to cut emissions would be a reduction of coal-generated electricity, he said.

Hendricks’ ministry has been working on the Climate Action Plan 2050 throughout the past year. However, its original draft has been watered down following pressure from the economics ministry and Angela Merkel’s Chancellery. Details like a deadline for the exit from coal-fired power generation or concrete emission reduction targets for individual sectors were dropped. The ministry’s latest draft, which environmental groups and opposition in parliament met with sharp criticism, is currently in consultation with other ministries. Cabinet is still expected to approve a final version of the plan before the start of the next COP in Marrakesh in mid-November.

“The federal government needs to significantly step up its efforts if it still wants to reach the 40-percent climate target by 2020. The coal power plants, traffic, the heat market and agriculture – in all areas the federal government waters down the climate protection efforts. This way, the targets of the Paris Climate Agreement will not be reached,” said Bärbel Höhn, Green politician and chairwoman of the environment committee in the German Bundestag.

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