Ambitious targets

Germany wants to reduce its CO2 emissions by more than half by the year 2030 – a major challenge.

Thermal image of a house
Thermal image of a house Jürgen Fälchle -

What are Germany’s climate goals?

Germany is a trailblazer in this field. In 2007, just two years after the Kyoto Protocol came into force, the Federal Republic set itself ambitious targets. The country aimed to reduce its CO2 emissions to 21% less than they had been in 1990 between the years 2008 and 2012. In fact, these emissions were reduced by over 24%. New targets were then set: minus 40% by 2020 and minus 80 to 95% by 2050.

The situation changed with the Paris Climate Agreement of 2015. While the Kyoto Protocol only obliged the industrialised countries to protect our climate, now all the world’s countries have to play a part. Together they aim to become carbon-neutral by 2050 and limit global warming to significantly less than two degrees Celsius. In other words, there are to be no more CO2 emissions after 2050 – unless they are offset by climate protection measures. Against this background, Germany had to redefine it targets. The planned 40% reduction has remained in place for 2020, but a decrease of at least 55% is now targeted for 2030. Germany aims to become carbon-neutral by 2050.

How does it plan to achieve this?

In simple terms: a transformation of the energy system combined with energy efficiency – in other words, more renewable energy and lower energy consumption. One third of Germany’s electricity already comes from green energy sources today. This level is intended to increase to 40 to 45% by 2025 and to roughly 55 to 60% by 2035. In addition to this there are dozens of schemes to promote energy saving – for example, grants for the modernisation of buildings or for municipal climate protection projects.

Will Germany meet its targets?

In October 2017 the Federal Environment Ministry had to admit that Germany will fail to meet its climate target for 2020 by wider margin than anticipated. Instead of the planned 40% decrease, it will probably only achieve a maximum reduction of 32%. This also threatens to undermine the longer term target. CO2 emissions have actually even increased in recent years. As a result, the next Federal Government will have to make major readjustments.