Greenhouse gas emissions must be lowered faster

The Federal Climate Change Act sets out annual reduction rates for each sector’s emissions to ensure than Germany can become greenhouse gas neutral by 2045. The 2021 Climate Change Projection Report shows that there is great need for further action.

Graphic proividing information about estimated trend of emissions according to 2021 Projection Report© BMWK

Time is running out for an effective mitigation of the climate crisis. The rise in the average global temperature is, if possible, to be kept down to 1.5C in order to avoid serious repercussions for life on Earth – this is what has been agreed in the Paris climate accord. More and more countries are facing up to this task. To this end, Germany wants to become greenhouse gas-neutral by 2045. But if we are to achieve this, we must bring down harmful greenhouse gas emissions three times faster than has so far been the case – and this must happen across all sectors. The 2021 Climate Change Projection Report suggests that the mitigation measures taken so far will not bring down the level of emissions fast enough. This report was also used as a basis for the new Federal Government’s Germany’s current climate action status (PDF download, 3 MB, in German only).

It says clearly in the action status that Germany must significantly speed up the process of lowering its emissions. The average annual reduction in emissions over the last decade stood at 15 million tonnes, but it will have to rise to more than 40 million tonnes a year in the second half of this decade. This is the aim set out in the Climate Change Act.

Greenhouse gas emissions between 1990 and 2020

Greenhouse gas emissions in Germany dropped by 41.3 per cent to approximately 729 million tonnes of CO2 equivalents between 1990 and 2020. It is true that 2020 saw a particularly steep reduction of 8.9% compared to the preceding year, but experts have found that at least half of this rate can be attributed to singular effects such as mild weather and the measures taken to contain the COVID-19 pandemic. They say that it is already possible to predict that greenhouse gas emissions will have risen again in 2021 in many sectors.

This is why an Immediate Climate Action Programme has been developed to get Germany back on course. The work on the necessary legislation, regulation, and other measures for this is to be concluded by the end of 2022. According to the climate action status, this could take Germany back on track by 2024, meaning that the ambitious climate targets for 2030 would be within reach again.