With common sense, even complex climate issues can be vividly depicted. This was proven on Monday by Brigitte Knopf, Vice-Chair of the Expert Council on Climate Issues. The latest decision by the traffic light government on possible changes to the Federal Climate Protection Act reminds them of the weakening of good personal resolutions after New Year's Eve, Knopf said on Monday in Berlin at the presentation of the test report on the calculation of greenhouse gas emissions for 2022. It is clear that they want to do more sports in the new year. The binding sector targets for greenhouse gas reduction that have been in force so far would correspond to the voluntary commitments of reasonable private individuals to go jogging every Tuesday or to go swimming regularly on Thursday. Now, however, the plan has suddenly been changed and the sector targets have been watered down. "The government now only says: I want to get fitter by the end of the year." How exactly she wants to achieve this, however, remains unclear. "It's a question of how credible this is and how far you can get with it," said Knopf, who is also secretary general of the Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change.

Christian Geinitz

Business correspondent in Berlin

  • Follow I follow

The Climate Protection Act stipulates that the experts examine the report presented by the Federal Environment Agency in March on the total emissions and emissions of the individual sources, i.e. energy generation, industry, buildings, transport, agriculture, waste management and other sectors. Essentially, the expert council confirmed both the methodology and the results, as Chairman Hans-Martin Henning of the Fraunhofer ISE Institute said. As criticized by the Federal Environment Agency, the problem children of transport are and remain the responsibility of Minister Volker Wissing (FDP) and the building sector under Construction Minister Klara Geywitz (SPD) and Economics Minister Robert Habeck (Greens). In transport, greenhouse gas emissions increased by 2022.1 million tonnes to 7 million tonnes in 149, exceeding the targets for the second time, by 9.7 million tonnes. Although emissions from buildings fell by 6 million tonnes to 112 million tonnes, they exceeded the legal target by 4 million tonnes; This was the third time that the sector had cleared the hurdle.

"No discernible change in trend"

There was also an increase of 11 million tonnes to 256 million tonnes in energy generation, but emissions here remained within the legal framework. The same was true for industry, which fell by 19 million tonnes to 164 million tonnes. Together, emissions from all sectors fell by 14 million tonnes to 746 million tonnes, falling short of the overall target by 10 million tonnes. However, the scientists do not see any reason for the all-clear, on the contrary. On the one hand, the emission intensity increased in 2022, which means CO2 emissions per unit of primary energy. In the war year 2022, this was due to the shift from gas to oil and from gas and nuclear energy to coal; even the increased use of renewable energies has not been able to compensate for this development.

Overall, emissions were 49 million tonnes below the pre-crisis level of 2019, Henning noted. However, the average reduction of 2.1 percent per year determined since then is not sufficient to achieve the climate targets in 2030. If the trend continues, Germany will miss the target of a maximum of 440 million tonnes by 190 million tonnes or by 40 percent in that reporting year. Instead of the 2030 percent reduction planned for 65 compared to 1990, only 55 to 60 percent are to be expected.

In the energy industry, a stronger reduction is questionable in the coming years, because the economy is picking up again, because the nuclear reactors are shut down and coal-fired power plants are back on the grid. The sharp decline in industry over the past year is likely to have been due to high energy prices and production cutbacks and may have been temporary. According to the experts, the decline in buildings was due to mild weather and high prices. In passenger transport, mileage has returned to 2019 levels, and more transports are expected rather than less. "There is no discernible trend change here," says Henning. It is right to rely on renewable sources, but the expansion of renewable energies and the dismantling of fossil fuels are taking place too slowly.

"Not on the right track in any sector"

The experts said that the ministers of transport and buildings were now forced to submit emergency programmes by 17 July to correct the misdemeanours after the fact. Unlike last year, effective proposals are expected this time from Wissing. Although the traffic light coalition has agreed on changes to the sector targets, it has not yet cast it into law, so that the requirement for improvement formally continues to apply.

Details of the amendment are still unclear and could contradict a 2021 decision by the Federal Constitutional Court, Henning noted. Some planned changes supported the achievement of the target, others did not. For example, one observes a "weakening of departmental responsibility" and sees an "increased risk of missing the targets for reducing emissions". Henning insisted on sticking to fixed emission budgets. Knopf said that they were waiting for the details of the draft, but that "we see that we are not on the right track in any sector."