Germany plans to cut climate emissions by 40%

German Environment Minister Sigmar Gabriel has unveiled an eight-point climate-change action plan, promising to cut the country’s greenhouse-gas emissions by 40% before 2020, or double the amount pledged by the EU as a whole.

The new German plan to slash greenhouse-gas emissions by 40% before 2020 goes beyond the EU’s commitment formulated by EU leaders at their Spring Summit in March. During that meeting, the EU-27 promised a unilateral 20% reduction by 2020, increasing even to 30% in the event of large economic powers such as the US and China following suit.

Berlin’s Climate Agenda 2020 calls for a “transformation of the industrial society”. In order to reach its 40% target (a reduction of 270 million tonnes of CO2), the document proposes eight measures:

  • Modernising power stations (-30 million tonnes);
  • doubling the amount of combined heat and power (CHP) use (- 20 million tonnes);
  • increasing the share of renewables in electricty production to 27% (- 55 million tonnes);
  • cutting electricity consumption by 11% (-40 million tonnes);
  • improving energy efficiency of buildings (-41 million tonnes);
  • using more renewables for heating (-14 million tonnes);
  • increasing fuel and engine efficiency in transport and more use of biofuels (-30 million tonnes), and;
  • reducing emissions of other (non -CO2) gases such as methane or F-gases.

Gabriel’s plan explictly rejects a revival of nuclear power and sticks to the coalition comprise between the SPD (Social Democrats) and CDU-CSU (Christian Democrats) to phase-out atomic energy. The investment costs for these plans would be €3 billion, whereas climate change could lead to damage costs of €137 billion, the report states in a short paragraph on financing.

Germany is clearly trying to position itself as climate-change leader in the run-up to the June G8 meeting in Heiligendamm.


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