A programme to meet Germany’s 2030 climate targets passed by the cabinet of Chancellor Angela Merkel in October is insufficient to reach the country’s emission-reduction targets, the government’s own environmental protection agency (UBA) said.
The UBA on behalf of key ministries commissioned a study to calculate the overall greenhouse gas mitigation effect of the Climate Action Programme 2030.
The programme would result in a reduction of total greenhouse gas emissions of 51% by 2030 when compared to 1990 levels – way below the 55% targeted by Berlin, the UBA estimates.
Its outcome is a major embarrassment for the German government, which has been struggling for months to find a compromise on how to phase out coal in energy generation and reduce emissions in all sectors of Europe’s largest economy, without major social and labour upheavals.
Simone Peter, head of Germany’s renewable energy federation BEE, said Merkel at a clean summit next week must put her weight behind plans to accelerate the expansion of renewables and push the energy transition into the heating and transport sectors.
“Everything else fundamentally puts the federal government’s credibility in question,” Peter said.
“It is all the more irritating that the demand for a flat-out distance rule for [onshore] wind energy is still maintained, and that the caps on PV, offshore [wind] and flexible bioenergy have not yet been abolished.”
The UBA admitted its estimate involves large uncertainties and does not represent an exact prediction, but claimed it “describes a possible, likely scenario of the emissions development in Germany”.
The 75-page-long report carried out by the Institute for Applied Ecology (Öko-Institut) with help from Fraunhofer ISI and the institute for resources efficiency and energy strategies (IREES) analyses in detail the sectors of energy, industry, housing, transport and agriculture.
Emissions in energy according to UBA’s calculations would decline to 186 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent (CO2e), instead of the 186 million tonnes of CO2e targeted, and in industry to 143 million tonnes of CO2e instead of 140 million tonnes.
The discrepancy between the government’s target and what the climate package would render is particularly drastic in transport, where only a reduction to 128 million tonnes of CO2e would be reached instead of 95 million envisaged.
The shortfall in energy is another sign of the failure of Merkel’s government in its energy transition policy.
A study this week by the Agora Energiewende think-tank had found that Germany would miss its 2030 renewable power target of 65% included in the climate package anyway without boosting its offshore wind target, and either fixing a collapse in onshore wind additions or more than doubling the country’s solar expansion.
Also, the government’s planned time-table for a coal exit would not render a large enough reduction in emissions, the UBA study said.
The outcome of the agency's report is certain to re-incite a shrill conflict within the government between environment minister Svenja Schulze from the Social Democrats (SPD) on one side, and economics and energy minister Peter Altmaier from Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU) and transport minister Andreas Scheuer from the Christian Social Union (CSU) (the Bavarian sister party of the CDU) on the other side.
Schulze said Merkel’s so-called ‘climate cabinet’ needs to reconvene to reach improvements in particular in the transport sector. Her cabinet colleague Scheuer according to media reports said his ministry now plans to come up with an own report to re-calculate the climate package’s impact in the transport sector.