Is Germany Reaching Its Emissions Targets?


Earlier this year we saw Germany surpassing its emissions targets by generating 35% of its electricity from renewables, but have they managed to keep it up?

In October government officials were forced to admit that Germany is highly likely to break its commitment to lowering greenhouse gases and toxic emissions. Germany’s target was to reduce emissions to 40% less than the 1990 level by the year 2020. However, without significant adjustments, emissions are now predicted to fall by only 32%.

Why is this Happening?

The main factor contributing towards this failure is Germany’s ongoing reliance on coal to generate power; in particular, lignite, a filthy brown coal with 60-70 percent carbon content. This reliance was worsened by the rushed decision to turn off the country’s nuclear power stations, which released relatively low levels of CO2, following the Fukushima nuclear disaster that took place in Japan in 2011.

Another factor is the strength of the German economy, which in turn has meant lower oil prices, leading to an increase in the use of oil for fueling cars and heating homes. While the policy in place focused on subsidising renewables, it did not draw its attention to phasing out fossil fuels.

Bad Timing

Not only is this setback unwanted, it comes at an unideal time following America announcing it was going to withdraw from the Paris Agreement. Germany and the rest of Europe are expected to now take the lead on implementing the agreement, however, Germany may prove itself an unreliable leader if it fails to meet its own emissions targets.

Salvaging the Issue

With this failure to meet targets in mind, plans to make things right will now fall under either the coalition government or after the general elections, if they are to take place. Many climate officials believe that Germany’s first priority should be to make a clear plan on how to get out of coal.


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