Spotlight Activity: Germany Policy Recommendations
Among the other 196 countries, Germany agreed to the Paris Agreement in 2015. It was ratified in the country on the 6th of October 2016. Shown below, is a projection from Climate Action Tracker of emission level that EU countries need to achieve to become 1.5 degrees Celsius compliant by 2030. All countries within the European Union have agreed to work towards the achievement of this target to guarantee a sustainable future for future generations.
As can be seen from above, however, it can clearly be said that with the current policies in place, the ambitioned target of keeping global warming below 1.5 degrees will not be met. From the above, it is likely that despite all changes implemented, the European Union would still steer towards a 2-3 degrees warming.
Germany, in particular being one of the bigger economies and the population richest countries within the European Union currently aims for a 3-degree warming according to a study released by the German “Tagesschau” in December 20181. Based on the study, Germany needs to reduce its CO2 emissions by 56% to reach the initial target of 2 degrees C warming only.
The most recent IPCC report stated that the target of 2 degrees would not be sufficient to prevent the major collapses of global ecosystems. The IPCC Report recommended a target of 1.5 Degrees Celsius and urged countries to put in place policies to reach this target by 2030. To reach the 1.5 degrees target. Germany is required to reduce its national emissions by at least 67% by 2030.
Climate Scorecard recommends a strategy for making Germany 1.5 degrees Celsius compliant by 2030 that consists of (a) Fully implementing existing policies and (b) Implementing new, complementary policies.
- Fully Implement Existing Climate Policies
Multiple plans, initiatives and concurrent policies do exist, which could aid would enable Germany to reach its 2030 target IF they were properly implemented and followed. Following, the Paris agreement, the central government ratified the national ‘Climate Protection Plan 2050’, which aims towards reducing national CO2 emissions by 85-90% and regenerate up to 60% from renewable energies.
It covers the essential elements, which are required to reach the initially set targets, such as strategic measures and visions for all sectors, milestones for every decade and the flexibility to increase the initially set targets. Unfortunately, as the annual ‘Climate Protection Report 2018’, revealed the first milestone of 2020 will not be reached and Germany will fail its target of reducing CO2 emissions by 40% with 8%. However, it is not too late to accelerate work on implementing the Climate Protection Plan, which we recommend doing.
The most recently discussed ‘energy transition’ policy needs to be more strongly enforced. More priority should be put to meet the set targets. The extension of the national grid needs immediate extension, to enable the transport of the generated electricity from the northern part of the country to the population rich cities, such as Berlin, Munich and Cologne, rather than encouraging the import of liquified natural gas (LNG) from the United States by deepening the harbors in northern Germany. More innovative activities need to be supported with funding by the federal government with specific targets for specific regions.
Figure 1. Essential reduction of CO2 emissions in Germany to become net zero by latest 2036 to lie within the rest carbon budget of 7.3 giga tons. 3)
Agriculture and Transport
- Promote electric farm vehicles such as the UBO Farm Bike which can cover a range of 120 km with one load
- Install a wind turbine or small solar panel that can be used for charging these vehicles.
This could be achieved by finally endorsing a national carbon tax that could be used for initiatives like the mentioned above. Concurrently, the cost of one farm bike is $ 5,300 US, which is likely to drop in the future due to lower manufacturing prices, higher demand and improved technology. The encouragement to invest in sustainable vehicles like this should be encouraged by the government, with giving subsidies for such a purchase. Another alternative would be to increase the tax for trucks LkW Maut (tax for trucks), which could then be used for better alternatives.
Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism
- Create car-free city centres, only allowing electric vehicles and public transport can be allocated restricted routes allowing easy access in an out of the ‘car free area’.
Cities like Amsterdam and Malmö, Copenhagen and Wyk on the island Föhr, are undertaking such programs and can be used as models. More power stations for electric vehicles and e-bikes need to be installed to make this transition happen. Initial increases of parking tickets would provide the cities with funds to cover the cost of these stations.
Stakeholder in charge: The Ministry of Transport, regional and city councils are encouraged to work together to create these car-free city centers. International initiatives should be studied and taken over if possible and improved with further German innovative designs.
- Increase forest areas and diversity
The government could add a paragraph to the existing Bundeswaltgesetz (National Forestry Law) that for every tree that is cut, three new ones have to be immediately planted in the country. Similar measures have been successfully implemented in Sweden.
Stakeholder in charge: The Ministry of Food and Agriculture that is responsible to enforce the National Forestry Law and thereby should take actions in this regard.
Education and Academic Research
- Increase investments in environmental education and awareness-raising campaigns.
Each school, each industry and business need to be aware of the current climate change challenges facing Germany and the world. Every citizen should be aware of the Paris Agreement, the sustainable development goals and be provided with options as to what they can do to help Germany mitigate and adapt to climate change. A number of grassroots initiatives that focus on sustainable consumption need to be scaled-up. For example, a minimal carbon footprint program already exists but needs to be further supported and encouraged to grow. The “Zero Waste” movement, which is currently taking off should be supported further.
Stakeholders in charge: Ministries for the environment and for education should collaborate on efforts to increase the quality and strengthen the impact of formal and non-formal environmental education efforts.
Activity Rating: *** Moving Forward
As outlined above and within the recommendations sections, it can be said that the framework and the policies are in place to ‘theoretically’ make a transition to a low carbon society. It is possible to reach the 1.5 degrees Celsius threshold if all regulations would be effectively enforced and modified slightly.
Please send the following message to the policymaker(s) below.
Dear Minister Schulze, Minister Klöckner, Minister Altmaier, and Minister Scheuer,
We encourage you and the Ministries of “Environment and Nuclear Security,” “Food and Agriculture,” “Energy and Economy,” and “Transport and Digital Infrastructure” to update Germany’s greenhouse gas emissions pledge before November 2030. As reported by the BMU, the country needs to reduce its emissions by at least 70% before 2030 in order to reach the 1.5 degree Celsius target. This is equivalent to a reduction of approximately 700 million tonnes CO2 equivalent.
It needs to be clarified that there are still sources of CO2 emissions such as international flight traffic and the international carbon budgets on imported products, which are not but should be captured in Germany’s calculations. Hence, Germany should increase its emissions reduction targets. To achieve these ambitious targets, it is essential to identify smart transitions and apply systems’ thinking across ministries and sectors.
Therefore, you are asked to take into consideration the above recommendations and particularly strengthen the Bundeswaltgesetz “Federal Forest Law”, make additional modifications to the EEG combining agriculture with transport, encourage sustainable city designs by providing federal government support to city councils when incorporating carbon-free city centres into the development plan.
Finally, the government is asked to enforce a transparent supply chain by businesses, which should be endorsed with the already planned “Wertschöpfungskettengesetz“, focusing not only on human rights but also on the carbon footprint of a product4.
Another final modification, which could be made is to encourage the implementation of displaying the carbon footprint of groceries of all sorts and within the hospitality sector. It is important to act now and not wait. As you said in the Klimaschutzplan 2050: “Dekarbonisierung bedeutet Umbau der Industrie und nicht Deindustrialisierung. Im Gegenteil: Nur wenn hochindustrialisierte Länder wie Deutschland den Beweis antreten, dass das Erreichen der nationalen Klimaschutzziele den wirtschaftlichen und industriellen Erfolg des Landes nicht negativ beeinträchtigt, werden uns andere Länder folgen.“
Send Action Alert Message to:
Federal Minister for Environment and Nuclear Security
Bahnhofstraße 9, 48143 Münster
Phone Number: +49 251 77 0 99
Federal Minister for Food and Agriculture
Ministry of Food and Agriculture
Wilhelmstraße 54, 10117 Berlin
Postbox: 11055 Berlin
Phone Number: +49 3 0 / 1 85 29 – 0
Federal Minister for Economic Affairs and Energy
Scharnhorststraße 34-37, 10115 Berlin
Phone: +49 (0) 3018 615-0
Fax: +49 (0) 3018 615-7010
Federal Minister for Transport and Digital Communication
Platz der Republik 1, 11011 Berlin
Phone Number: +49 30 227 73119
- Article on Germany’s concurrent emission targets, December 2018
- Klimaschutzplan 2050 (Climate Protection Plan 2050) Germany
- Article on Study for reaching Zero carbon emissions by 2036:
- New Zealand Start-Up of electric Farm Bikes:
- Article on proposed Wertschöpfungskettengesetz (“transparent supply chain law”)