02 Feb 2023, 13:19
Benjamin Wehrmann

Net-zero by 2045 only achievable through society-wide effort – German science academy

Clean Energy Wire

Germany’s ambitious goal of reaching net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2045 can only be achieved through a comprehensive and multi-layered approach that includes technological, social and economic adaptation at all levels, according to the country’s science academies Acatech, Leopoldina and Akademienunion. Negative emissions with the help of carbon capture and storage (CCS) and reduced energy consumption are two key components needed to reach climate neutrality by the target year. Germany’s government had pulled it forward from 2050 following a landmark court ruling in 2021 requiring the government to present more detailed emissions reduction plans. The researchers from Acatech’s Energy Systems of the Future (ESYS) programme, which it runs together with other science academies, listed 22 areas of action that need addressing in order to achieve the required transformation within the remaining 22 years. “The transformation of our energy system must be understood and dealt with as a process that encompasses all of society,” the researchers said in a statement. While renewable power, more efficient heating, clean transport and industry transformation remain the most important aspects of the transition, patterns of energy consumption also need changing in order to meet the 2045 target. “This not only requires higher efficiency, but also a reduction in demand,” the researchers added.

Reducing energy demand will only be possible through offering “good climate-friendly alternatives for housing and mobility,” said Anke Weidlich, Professor of Energy Systems at the University of Freiburg. “These have to become the standard and gradually replace current emissions-intensive solutions,” she argued. Industrial transformation could only be achieved through a timely combination of clean energy and green hydrogen, circular economy approaches and a more efficient use of resources, Weidlich and her colleagues found. Tackling residual emissions through CCS procedures should “once again be discussed publicly,” while preparations for a market scale-up of CO2 withdrawal should start in parallel. Only a concerted effort across society could put the country on a “resilient path to transformation,” the academy concluded. By launching initiatives in many different areas at once, possible shortcomings in one field could be balanced by faster progress in others.

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