24 Jan 2023, 13:10
Carolina Kyllmann

NGO sues German government for failing climate targets in transport and buildings sectors

Clean Energy Wire / Tagesspiegel Background

Environmental lobby group Friends of the Earth Germany (BUND) is suing the German government for missing its emission reduction targets in the buildings and transport sectors. BUND has filed a lawsuit with the Higher Administrative Court of Berlin-Brandenburg aiming to force the traffic light coalition – formed by the Social Democrats (SPD), the pro-business Free Democrats (FDP) and the Green Party – to step up climate protection with emergency programmes. “We cannot continue to watch on as parts of the federal government ignore their own climate protection targets and refuse to take effective measures,” head of BUND Olaf Bandt said.

If sectors exceed their permissible annual CO2 emissions, they are required by law to present an emergency programme outlining how these emissions will be reduced swiftly. This was required for the buildings and transport sectors, which missed their targets in 2021. The transport ministry under Volker Wissing (FDP) especially produced an “unambitious” proposal which is insufficient to reach future targets, according to a council of experts. A cross-ministerial emergency climate protection programme (Klimaschutz-Sofortprogramm), which should lay out the steps on how Germany will achieve its climate targets with specific focus on the two sectors, was initially expected by the end of 2022. So far, however, infighting between coalition partners FDP and the Green Party has meant the reform to the Climate Protection Act “is not in sight”, Tagesspiegel Background reported. A cabinet meeting on Thursday 26 January is aimed at clearing the reform backlog. 

Germany missed its target to reduce total emissions by 40 percent in 2020 compared to 1990 levels. It also missed the target in 2021, and preliminary calculations by think tank Agora Energiewende show that it likely was missed again in 2022. The transport sector exceeded its 2021 target by 3.1 million tonnes of CO2 and the buildings sector by 2.5 million tonnes. Germany aims to reduce emissions by 65 percent by 2030 and to become climate neutral by 2045.

Following a lawsuit filed by environmental groups, Germany's highest court in 2021 said that the government's climate legislation was insufficient, lacking detail on emission reduction targets beyond 2030. Shortly after the ruling that was widely hailed as "historic", the government amended the Climate Action Law, pulling forward its target date for climate neutrality by five years to 2045.

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