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Europe’s climate protection pledge

The EU wants to be a climate protection pioneer. Whether its ambitious goals can be achieved also depends crucially on Germany. 

Carsten Hauptmeier, 16.11.2021
Clear target for Europe too: no more than 1.5 degrees
Clear target for Europe too: no more than 1.5 degrees © pa/NurPhoto

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen described the outcome of COP26, the UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow that ended in mid-November 2021, as “a step in the right direction”. At the same time, she warned: “1.5 degrees Celsius remains within reach; but the work is far from done.” Europe wants to become a climate protection pioneer with its Green Deal to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees compared to the pre-industrial era.

European Green Deal

Europe wants to become the first climate-neutral continent by 2050. That is why greenhouse gas emissions are to be reduced by at least 55% compared to 1990 levels by 2030. In summer 2021 the European Commission presented Fit for 55, a set of proposals outlining how this interim target will be achieved. The measures range from emissions trading to stricter traffic regulations and a forest strategy. “We need real action during this decade now,” demanded Commission President von der Leyen at the climate summit.

Support for especially vulnerable countries

The industrialised countries have promised to provide financial support to poorer countries that are especially severely impacted by climate change. An annual total of 100 billion dollars is to be made available. The EU is already contributing over a quarter of this with a sum of over 27 billion dollars. According to current plans, the overall target of 100 billion dollars will be reached by 2023 at the latest – originally, however, that should have been the case in 2020.

Germany’s ambitious goals

Germany has set itself even higher targets than the EU: according to the climate protection legislation passed in 2021, by 2030 greenhouse gas emissions are to be reduced by 65% compared to 1990 and greenhouse gas neutrality achieved by 2045. It has also been agreed to phase out coal – initially planned for 2038, this is now meant to be accomplished much faster.

The UN Climate Change Conference also sent out the message that the burning of coal must end worldwide. Germany and the EU are already providing concrete assistance here. Thus, for example, a partnership has been agreed with South Africa to enable the country to phase out coal mining quicker.