Germany missed its climate targets in 2021 and the incoming “traffic light” coalition is promising a major policy package to turn things around
Germany missed its climate target for 2021 and is likely to miss them again this year and next, according to vice chancellor Robert Habeck, who said the country “must triple the pace of emission cuts” to reach its 2030 goals.
2021 was a bad year for Germany’s climate ambitions. Due to exceptionally low winds, renewable electricity generation was at its lowest level in two years. Carbon emissions rebounded after a short drop from Covid-19 restrictions.
The country has therefore failed to meet its 2021 climate goals.
“We start with a drastic backlog,” admitted vice chancellor Robert Habeck as he presented Germany’s 2021 climate account in Berlin on Tuesday (11 January).
Habeck explained that Germany would only achieve a 50% reduction in its emissions by 2030 under business-as usual projections. “That would mean emitting 200 million tonnes of CO2 more” than the country’s target, he added.
“The climate protection measures taken to date are inadequate in all sectors,” he said, adding that Germany would likely “miss its 2022 and 2023 climate targets.”
In December, the “traffic light” coalition made up of the socialist SPD, the Greens and the liberal FDP assumed office in Berlin following 16 years of conservative rule by Angela Merkel.
According to December’s official figures, Germany has reduced its emissions by 40% compared to 1990. Habeck noted that the country would need to reduce 25% more to reach its 2030 targets.
“To do this, we need to triple the pace of our emissions reductions and do significantly more in less time,” he pointed out.
Expectations are high that the new government can turn the tide with the Greens at the helm.
Habeck stated that he will present his first climate protection plan in April, followed later by a second set of proposals sometime in the summer.
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In order to achieve what Habeck calls a “mammoth” task, the government is preparing a package of legislation for publication around Easter. The vice chancellor identified seven priority measures he hopes to see adopted by the summer.
- A solar acceleration package, which will include increased capacity tenders and making additional open space available to solar installations, making solar mandatory for new business buildings and commonplace for private homes, as per the coalition treaty.
- Additional space available for onshore wind energy. Habeck aims to speed up the expansion with a “wind on land” law and to reduce minimum distances to military infrastructure to obtain additional space as fast as possible. His ministry confirmed that around 7 to 9 GW could easily be obtained by moving closer to navigation and military facilities.
- How to control the soaring electricity costs. Habeck wants to see the renewable energy surcharge taken out of consumer prices and transferred into the state budget starting in 2023.
- Carbon Contracts for Difference – CCfDTo accelerate industrial decarbonisation. CCfDs are a financial instrument that bridges the gap between carbon price on the EU market, and low carbon technologies which require a higher CO2 cost.
- Climate neutral heat produced by 50% of the 2030 population. According to the climate ministry, residential heating must be decarbonized in tandem with energy efficiency. Germany will increase its funding for energy efficient heating systems once the Commission approves state aid.
- A review of the buildings law on energy. The new rule, which requires that all heating units be run on at least 65% renewable energy by 2025, is intended to provide investors with security. This will help avoid stranded investments. To boost renovations, energy efficient buildings would be “swiftly adjusted in parallel” and given the high prices for building material, Habeck said that state support would be “in line with prices.”
- Doubling green hydrogen production. Patrick Graichen (state secretary for climate), stated that domestic production of hydrogen from renewable electricity will be significantly increased while imports would continue to play an important part.
Germany’s powerful industry association BDI welcomed the frank analysis made by Habeck.
“The realistic and unsparing stocktaking by the federal minister of economics Habeck matches the calculations of the industry,” said BDI president Siegfried Russwurm.
“The industry stands ready as a constructive partner in this enormous challenge,” he added, noting however that a massive expansion of gas power plants would be necessary to reach the country’s 2030 coal exit date.
“The question of how to finance new gas power plants has yet to be resolved,” he said, in a nod to ongoing Brussels debates on whether to award fossil gas a “transitional” green investment label.
Industry groups said they were now waiting to see how Habeck’s intentions will be translated in concrete terms. “Successful climate protection needs a feasible strategy and concrete measures,” explained Ingbert Liebing, head of the utility association VKU.
This article was produced and republished by Euractiv under a content-sharing agreement.
Source: Climate Change News