Pandemic helped Germany reach its climate targets

In 2020, a total of 739 million tons of carbon dioxide were emitted, a decrease of 70 million tons compared to the previous year. [shutterstock/Markus Mainka]

Germany said on Tuesday it had met its national climate goal for 2020 with 40.8% fewer emissions compared to 1990.

But that would not have been possible without the coronavirus-related lockdowns, which helped to drive the biggest reduction in emissions for three decades in Europe’s biggest economy.

“Without the lockdowns with the restrictions on production and mobility, Germany would have missed its goal,” said the President of the Federal Environment Agency, Dirk Messner, at the presentation of the German carbon footprint.

In 2020, a total of 739 million tons of carbon dioxide were emitted, a decrease of 70 million tons compared to the previous year.

For 2020, Germany had set itself the goal of reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 40% compared to 1990.

About a third of the fall is attributed to the corona effect, especially in the transport sector, where emissions slumped 11.4%, the Federal Environment Agency has calculated.

“It’s clear that the coronavirus pandemic has fuelled the reduction in emissions,” German environment minister Svenja Schulze told reporters, warning there was “no reason to relax”.

“Catastrophes and economic crises cannot replace sensible climate policy and sustainable restructuring of our economy,” she added.

Emissions fell also in the energy sector, by 14,5%, primarily because of lignite. The phase-out of coal with the shutdown of the first power plants at the end of 2020 will only become apparent from 2021.

The only sector to miss its 2020 targets was buildings, with Schulze noting that people had spent more time at home with the heating on during the pandemic.

The Climate Protection Act, which came into force in 2020, provides for specific targets to be set for each sector, compliance with which is checked every year. A climate council is set to evaluate the figures by mid-April.

The ministries who fail to achieve their goals will be asked to submit a new program within three months.

(Alexandra Brzozowski, EURACTIV.com)

Subscribe to our newsletters

Subscribe