Germany’s climate plan confirms 40% emission cuts

Germany's Climate Plan

Creative Commons: Robert. S Donovan, 2014

Authored by Paulina Szhbat

Germany has come to Lima with a brand new Climate Action Plan to ensure it hits its emission reduction targets.

While already being one of the most consistent advocates of climate action, Germany has decided redouble its efforts to tackle climate change while also phasing out its nUclear energy sector.

This is a daunting endeavor.

Emissions in the country have been rising over the last four years with the global coal price drop.

In the face of a difficult energy transition, however, the German cabinet has agreed to slash CO2 emissions by up to 78 million tonnes by 2020, and ramp up to its agreed 40% reduction ten years ahead of the EuroPean Union.

This announcement has been welcomed by environmental NGOs.

Martin Kasier, head of International Climate Politics at Greenpeace described the plan as reflecting Germany’s “fair share”.

“Finally, the German government is approaching increased coal emissions with real action,” he said.

This also comes as a strong signal here at the UN climate negotiations, as countries are currently debating the details of the global climate agreement, and what each country’s individual contribution should look like.

Among many of the country negotiators here, it may indeed be a sign that, as Germany’s environment minister Barbara Hendricks stated, “you can rely on Germany”.

However, this additional effort, above and beyond the EU’s climate agreements may also be a sign that other European countries such as France and the UK could also follow suit.

Following the People’s Climate March in New York, the announcement of the EU 2030 targets and the agreement between USA and China, this plan will be a major advancement to this year’s climate talks.

It is hoped that this announcement might act to spur on further individual action by other countries ahead of 2015, particularly those countries lagging behind the international push a 100% emissions phase out by 2050.

The Climate Action Plan requires a complete overhaul of energy use across the energy sector, which has been heading in the wrong direction ever since Germany’s pledge to phase out its nuclear power base.

Without this overhaul, Germany would fall short of a 40% reduction in CO2 emissions (compared to 1990) by at least 7 percentage points or 87 million tonnes.

This is in response to research conducted by Economists at the German Institute for Economic Research who recently analysed Germany’s existing emission reduction plans, referred to as the “climate gap.”

The research stated that reversing its recent rising trend in coal consumption and closing down existing coal mines is the only way that Germany would be able to fulfil its ambitious plan.

As the research also highlights, this process promises to continue to be a challenge for the European solar powerhouse as it attempts to adjust to increasingly transient economic conditions.

It has been a big week for Germany. Earlier in the week the business community sent strong signals that it would also help to contribute towards greater resource efficiency measures to transition towards a low carbon economy.

Its largest power and gas company E.ON. announced it is committed towards phasing out fossil fuels and developing itself as a renewable energy business dedicated to supporting this transition.

However, not everyone agrees, as Greenpeace’s Energy Desk has described the move as a merely a split within the company, as one half will continues be heavily involved with fossil fuels.

By reconfirming its commitments, Germany has demonstrated what appears to be a relatively unique political will to shift towards a low carbon future.

This will no doubt also contribute to the EU’s common reduction efforts, while clearly labelling Germany as its mitigation leader.

Jennifer Morgan, the Global Director of WRI said that she hopes that “the experience and benefits coming from Germany will help to inspire, and show a really good example to countries like Poland and others in this region that rely on coal that they can shift in this direction” .

She also hopes the move will be accompanied by political will to further engage “with their colleagues from other countries” on taking greater action.

The latest German climate action plan provides compelling evidence that Germany has taken the lead on greenhouse gases emission reductions and now stands proudly in front of the EU as the region faces the challenge of confronting climate change in an era of economic slowdown.

If proven successful, this plan will be not only become a victory for Germany, but we can only hope it will reverberate across the region, and throughout the halls of COP20.

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