Germany urged to rethink climate goals

Barbara Hendricks [UN Climate Change/Flickr]

German environmental groups have called upon the government to up national climate protection targets and have called a recent amendment to the country’s Renewable Energy Act (EEG) “counterproductive”. EURACTIV Germany reports.

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon hailed the signing of the Paris Agreement by 175 countries this weekend as a “historic moment” and Germany’s Minister of the Environment, Barbara Hendricks, voiced her desire that the country take a leading role through its 2050 climate protection plan.

The plan, which is expected to be adopted by the German government before the summer, binds Germany to its commitment to go largely carbon-neutral by 2050.

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Until the EU can agree on how to share its responsibility for climate action, it will not be able to sign the Paris deal. A high ambition coalition could accelerate this process. EURACTIV France reports.

However, several environmental organisations have denounced it as unrealistic. “CO2 emissions have continued to climb in recent years and climate and efficiency targets for 2020 are already in severe jeopardy and the planned amendment to the EEG is going to put the brakes on the expansion of the renewables sector,” warned acting head of the BUND NGO, Antje von Broock.

More than 40 environmental groups have come up with “Civil society’s 2050 climate protection plan” to demonstrate how Berlin can reach its climate targets. Germany’s ambitious reduction targets will only stay on track if it meets its goal of reducing emissions by 40% by 2020. This would then necessitate more ambitious intermediate targets for 2030 and 2040, as well as appropriate legally-binding sub-targets for the energy, transport, industrial and construction sectors, as well as agriculture.

The organisations also called upon Germany’s plan to phase out the use of coal as an energy source to be transcribed into law. Greenpeace’s Karsten Smid called for a phase-out to be completed by 2035. “There should be no new opencast mines, on the contrary: lignite should not be promoted as an energy source at all,” said Klaus Milke, from development group Germanwatch.

President of the Nature and Biodiversity Conservation Union (NABU), Olaf Tschimpke, criticised the amendment to the EEG as “completely counterproductive to the climate goals, as instead of the necessary accelerated expansion of the renewables sector, the new EEG puts the brakes on it”.

NABU’s climate expert, Sebastian Scholz, added that the euphoria of the Paris conference has long since given way to political pragmatism at EU-level, accusing Climate Commissioner, Miguel Arias Cañete of “betraying” the agreement.

Could the COP21 agreement come into force without the EU?

The Paris climate agreement, the hard-won fruit of the COP21 conference last December, has been a subject of vigorous debate ahead of the European Council summit on 17 and 18 March. EURACTIV France reports.

The Paris Agreement sets out a global action plan to keep global temperature rise this century well below 2°C and to drive efforts to limit the increase even further to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels. The agreement also aims to strengthen the ability of countries to deal with the impacts of climate change.

The agreement will enter into force once it has been ratified by at least 55 parties, representing at least 55% of global greenhouse gas emissions. For the European Union, this will require not only a legislative procedure at EU level – involving the consent of the European Parliament – but also ratification in each of the 28 member states.

The Commission presented in March 2016 an assessment of the implications for the European Union of the Paris Agreement. The European Council in its conclusions 18 March 2016 called for the signature and timely ratification of the Paris Agreement by the member states. The Council invited the Commission to present the key remaining legislative proposals to implement the 2030 framework which underlines the EU's commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions domestically and to increase the share of renewable energies and improve energy efficiency, in line with the agreement by the European Council in October 2014.

In this context, and respecting the European Council conclusions of October 2014, the Commission will in the next 12 months present proposals for an Effort-Sharing Decision for sectors not covered by the EU Emissions Trading System and on land use, land use change and forestry (LULUCF), legislation to set up a reliable and transparent climate and energy governance mechanism for the post-2020 period, and the necessary policy proposals to adapt the EU's regulatory framework in order to put energy efficiency first and to foster EU's role as a world leader in the field of renewable energy.


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