Germany positive about 2050 climate targets, 2020 looks less promising

Protestors at COP22 called for an end to fossil fuels, a target that Germany could be on the cusp of by 2050. But 2020 looks less positive. [Takven/Flickr]

Environmentalists have praised Germany for its ambitious 2050 emissions targets, where it is aiming for a 95% reduction in comparison to 1990 levels. But things are less rosy when it comes to its 2020 targets. EURACTIV’s partner Der Tagesspiegel reports.

Four days before the US presidential election, the Paris Agreement entered into force in record time. As Moroccan King Mohamed VI opened the COP22 climate change conference last Tuesday (7 November), the African monarch used the opportunity to try and divert attention away from the ongoing protests in his country by talking about his ambitious solar power plans.

Both he and outgoing UN Secretary-General Bank Ki-moon avoided the delicate subject of what could happen to climate protection under a Trump presidency, both before and after the news broke that Hillary Clinton had been defeated in the 8 November vote.

Only French President François Hollande, under whose leadership the agreement was brokered one year ago in Paris, took aim at the now president-in-waiting by saying that “all countries must respect the climate agreement”.

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In contrast, German Environment Minister Barbara Hendricks (SPD) took a more pragmatic approach. Together with her colleague, Development Minister Gerd Müller, she put forward a plan in which Germany and other industrialised countries would help poorer countries adapt to the unavoidable impact of climate change.

Last week, Berlin finally gave its approval at the 11th hour to the proposed 2050 national climate plan and Hendricks was able to talk to the world’s press about the targets. The environment minister praised the plan’s so-called sectoral targets, in which areas such as energy, industry, transport and agriculture will have to comply with specific targets through 2030.

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Greenpeace boss Jennifer Morgan praised Germany for agreeing on a plan that will see it, hopefully, reduce emissions by 95% in comparison with 1990 levels. Some industry and business associations had voiced their objections to the plan, which they believed would hinder competition.

However, things are less positive as regards Germany’s 2020 targets, in which it is aiming for a 40% reduction compared with the same baseline. Even the most optimistic predictions, with high-priced carbon emissions trading allowances and oil prices taken into account, say that Germany will not achieve anything more than 37%.

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Even the decommissioning of eight charcoal piles will not be enough to bring Germany back on track. On 1 October, a power plant at Buschhaus in central Germany was mothballed for four years, with its operator being paid so long as it does not produce anything and under the condition that it will be decommissioned. Two more plants are set to be closed in the same way next October.

Before the Marrakesh conference, Hendricks indicated that even more coal will have to be taken out of the network in order for climate goals to be met. Whether this will happen during an election year was met with doubt by the opposition. Green MEP Annalena Baerbrock told Der Tagesspiegel that “the gap is as big now as it was a year ago. The climate action programme is clearly ineffective.”



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