Spotlight Activity: Germany’s Emissions Reporting Fails to Take into Account Data on international Air and Sea Transport, Deforestation and Land Use
The Annual National (German) Report on Climate Protection 2018, published by the Ministry of Environment and Nuclear Protection (BMU), reported that current climate targets of reducing the annual CO2 emissions by 40 percent under the Action Programme 2020 will not be met, falling short by 8 percent. Hence, only 32 percent will be reached according to a study conducted by the BMU.
This annual report is based on the Annual Inventory of Carbon Emissions, which is carried out by the Bundesumweltamt (UBA) (Federal Environmental Office) and currently is updated until the year 2016. The inventory focuses on general carbon dioxide emissions, including methane and nitrous oxide. The emissions are subdivided into the already mentioned target areas. According to the inventory published in 2018 (data for 1990-2016), national emissions have decreased from 1,252 tonnes in 1990 to 909 tonnes in 2016, which was more than recorded in 2015.
The highest percentage of emissions can be allocated to the energy sector, which includes transport and electricity. It has been noted both in the 2017 and 2018 report that the transport sector continues to increase rather than decrease. This is explained by more vehicles on the road and more air traffic. Emissions from vehicles have exceeded the numbers of 1990 and have continued to increase until 2018.
A just recent press release, published by the Federal Office of Environment 2 April 2019, revealed that for the first time in four years, Germany has seen a 4.2 percent drop in greenhouse gas emissions, which also includes the traffic and the energy sector. Interestingly, however, is the fact that the agriculture sector has seen a slight increase according to the BMU. It is very likely that last year’s hot summer and mild winter are responsible for those changes. In fact, the great drought in 2018 has resulted in a substantial crisis for farmers independent of the investment (agricultural land, dairy, pig etc.). It is worth noting that the report does not include international air and sea traffic emissions, which could be significant. The full report is to be submitted and released in January 2020 as part of the obligatory monitoring report to the European Commission – This report is the 6th report of its kind, which started with the Kyoto Protocol agreement in 1992.
In 2016, the second highest contribution originates from the industry sector with 21 percent. However, it needs to be noted that a larger component of the 21 percent has to be subdivided into the three measured GHGs, including methane and nitrous oxide. According to future predictions, it is expected that due to higher European carbon prices, the overall emissions within the industrial sector may decrease in the following years.
When assessing the contribution from land use and land use conversion, it was found that emissions originating from deforestation and emissions originating from agriculture are not included in this section. It becomes questionable, how reliable and detailed these particular sections remain. Worrying is that predictions show that this sector will transfer from being a carbon sink to a source since a majority of the commercial forestry is about to harvest.
Status: Right Direction (needs more work)
Germany’s Federal Environment Office (Bundesumweltamt) releases most of the necessary data needed to show the detailed status of emissions generated produced by Germany and provides the BMU with annually updated surveys. However, it is of concern that international air- and sea traffic is not captured under the emission’s inventory, nor is there sufficient information to ascertain the amount of forestry and land use.
Maria Krautzberger (president), the Federal Environment Office is asked to provide further information about the origins of their data. It would be beneficial for the data users, knowing how the emissions from different sectors were evaluated and who is compiling them. Furthermore, statistics should be added to the final numbers to confirm the reliability of the data. As identified above, the gap of not assessing the international sea- and air traffic is of concern and Germany, playing an important international role, should provide a better baseline for all emissions related to its national and international business. Another concern is the absence of data on deforestation and land-use, sectors that often make major contributions to the level of greenhouse gas emissions.
Send Action Alert Message to:
Ministry of Environment:
Bundesministerium für Umwelt, Naturschutz und nukleare Sicherheit (BMU)
Stresemannstraße 128 – 130
Telefon: 030 18 305-0
Telefax: 030 18 305-2044
Federal Office of Environment (Emissions’ department)
Attention: Maria Krautzberger (President of the Federal Office of the Environment
Wörlitzer Platz. 1,
06844 Dessau-Roßlau Germany
Telefon: +49 (0)340 2103-3019
Fax: +49 (0)340 2104-3019
- Link to the role of the Federal Environmental Office: https://www.umweltbundesamt.de/das-uba/was-wir-tun
- Link to webpage providing overview of Germany’s climate programme: https://www.bundesregierung.de/breg-de/themen/energiewende/weniger-emissionen-mehr-energieeffizienz-439688
- Link to annual reports 2017 and 2018 on the protection of the climate: https://www.bmu.de/fileadmin/Daten_BMU/Pools/Broschueren/klimaschutzbericht_2017_aktionsprogramm.pdf