Germany has sent the EU Commission its official emissions figures for 2018, which are slightly lower than the previous year. Most reductions were made in the energy sector, while transport and agriculture still lag behind. Yet, Germany will not miss its climate targets for this decade as initially anticipated. EURACTIV Germany reports.
Germany emitted 35.9 million tonnes less greenhouse gases in 2018, which is 4% fewer than the year before. Compared to 1990, emissions were reduced by 31.4%, the Federal Environment Agency (UBA) announced on Wednesday (22 January).
Although Germany had slightly exceeded its emissions by just over eight million tonnes in 2018 as part of the EU burden-sharing procedure, UBA stated that this could be offset thanks to emission rights that had previously been saved.
The burden-sharing procedure allocates each member state a different share of carbon allowances based on its economic performance, adjusted to the EU’s current climate targets in the areas of transport, buildings, agriculture, small industrial plants and waste. This means that Germany will not have to buy emission allowances from other EU member states for 2018.
The largest reduction in greenhouse gases was achieved in the energy sector, as these fell by 5.25% to a total of just over 16 million tonnes. According to experts, this is due to the increasing share of renewables and rising prices of CO2 certificates in the EU emissions trading scheme (EU ETS), which covers a large portion of the energy sector.
Germans buy more cars but drive less
The successes in the industrial and transport sectors are more modest in 2018. While the industrial sector emitted 1.3% less CO2, the transport sector emitted 3.3% less CO2 compared to the previous year.
This is the first time the transport sector has seen a reduction in emissions since 2012. According to the researchers, the slight decline is presumably linked to increased fuel prices.
However, other figures indicate that Germans continue to adhere to their transport habits. For example, the number of passenger cars increased by 1.3% compared to the previous year.
As the Federal Motor Transport Authority recently reported, more than one million SUVs were sold in Germany for the first time in 2019. Shortly before the turn of the year, Frankfurt Airport also stated that it had broken the record of 70 million passengers in one year for the first time.
Germany’s Environment Agency also noted slight reductions in greenhouse gases in the agricultural sector, as emissions had been reduced by 3.8%, compared to 2017.
According to the agency, the reasons for this slight decline were due to reduced use of mineral fertilisers and less livestock. As both were influenced by the dry summer, among other things, such a decrease may not have necessarily been planned.
Surprising estimates for 2019
For 2019, official emissions figures should be published in March.
Two weeks ago, an assessment by the think tank Agora Energiewende came to the surprising conclusion that greenhouse gases had fallen significantly in 2019 and that Germany was thus unexpectedly moving towards its climate targets for 2020.
According to Agora’s assessment, Germany reduced its emissions by about 6%, meaning it had emitted 811 million fewer tonnes that year.
This was mainly due to reduced electricity consumption levels, as well as to the increased share of renewable energies, which rose to 43%, according to the researchers. By 2030, Germany intends to increase its share of renewables by 65%.
However, the researchers concluded that for 2019, Germany would still be five percentage points short of its national climate target of reducing emissions by 40% compared to 1990.
[Edited by Zoran Radosavljevic]