Shortly before the next international climate conference, experts from the federal government do not give good marks. If the country continues like this, it will miss the climate targets, so the conclusion. Transport Minister Wissing is the focus of attention.
According to the Federal Government’s Expert Council, Germany’s climate targets for 2030 are in great danger. “At the moment it doesn’t look as if we can achieve the goals,” said deputy chairwoman Brigitte Knopf on Friday in Berlin at the presentation of a report on the status of German climate policy. “We will definitely not achieve the climate targets for 2030 with ‘keep it up’,” Knopf warned. Germany wants to reduce its emissions of greenhouse gases by at least 65 percent by 2030 compared to 1990.
Two days before the start of the next world climate conference in Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt, the Council of Experts for Climate Issues presented its report on the status of German climate policy to the government and the Bundesrat. The independent panel of five experts published this so-called two-year report, which is stipulated in the Climate Protection Act, for the first time; further reports will then follow every two years.
“The amount of reduction achieved every year should more than double compared to the historical development of the last ten years,” explained Councilor Thomas Heimer with regard to Germany’s emissions of greenhouse gases. “In the industrial sector, a 10-fold increase in the average reduction quantity per year and in the transport sector even a 14-fold increase would be necessary.”
Between 2000 and 2021, the emission of climate-damaging gases in Germany fell by around 27 percent, adjusted for temperature, the committee stated. Half of this reduction goes to the account of the energy industry. There have also been developments towards a more economical use of energy.
However, these would be counteracted by greater use and consumption. “Efficiency gains were thwarted, for example, by general economic growth, larger living space or increased transport services,” explained Chairman Hans-Martin Henning. One example is traffic: cars have become much more efficient in the last twenty years. At the same time, however, the number of vehicles has increased and cars are getting bigger. “Of course, that’s counterproductive,” said Henning. If someone buys an electric car with a better environmental balance and continues to use their old car as a second car, “nothing is gained at all”.
The result: In the transport sector, emissions even increased again from 2010 to 2019, followed by a decrease again as a result of the corona pandemic. This now increases the pressure on Transport Minister Volker Wissing (FDP). In the summer, Wissing’s ministry presented a climate plan that only provided for savings of 14 megatons of CO2 by 2030 instead of the legally prescribed 261 megatons. The emergency program was “already unsatisfactory from the outset,” said a sharp statement from the expert council at the time.
The Ministry of Transport promised to close the gap in the Federal Government’s forthcoming immediate climate protection program. In the cornerstones that became known from government circles on Monday, however, there is still a claim for a reduction of 118 to 175 million greenhouse gases. This was justified with omissions from the past, which now have to be made up for.
The approval of the emergency program in the cabinet had already been delayed – mainly due to resistance from the FDP, according to coalition circles. The federal government is also still missing its mandatory climate targets in the area of buildings by SPD Minister Klara Geywitz.
A forced expansion of renewable energies is now necessary, said Henning. In the case of solar systems and wind farms at sea, it will be difficult to achieve the goals, said Knopf, while things are looking better for wind farms on land. Devices such as heaters that work with fossil fuels would have to be replaced, but people would also change their behavior, warns the Expert Council.
However, the experts expressed doubts that adjusting the previous course would be sufficient. When looking at the past twenty years, it is questionable whether future climate goals can be achieved without a paradigm shift, said Henning. One possibility is about hard limits for emissions that are still permissible. A trading system could then be set up for the quantities still permitted. For politicians, it is then a matter of organizing the consumption that is still possible in such a way that the economy and society can cope with it.
Environmental organizations saw their criticism of the federal government strengthened. The German environmental aid spoke of a “breach of the law by the federal government”. The traffic light government “fails in climate protection and does not even comply with the law of the previous government, Merkel,” criticized Environmental Aid Managing Director Jürgen Resch. There are simple measures that would immediately save millions of tons of CO2, Resch added – such as a speed limit in road traffic.
“At the COP27, which starts on Sunday, Chancellor (Olaf) Scholz will have to explain to the other countries why Germany is not taking more decisive action against the climate crisis,” explained Christiane Averbeck, Chair of the Climate Alliance Germany, with a view to the World Climate Conference. the so-called COP. Incentives alone are not enough for the climate-friendly conversion, emphasized Tobias Austrup from Greenpeace. In addition to the expansion of renewable energies, it is important: “Oil and gas heating systems must disappear from basements sooner, diesel and petrol engines from the streets more quickly.”