In November 2019, the German federal government passed the new “Klimapaket” (Climate Packet) to immediately take action to achieve the initial pledges made in the Paris Agreement. Long discussions and revisions have taken place internally among parties and in parliament to reach to the final document of the “Klimaschutzgesetz”, which is the official agreement to meet the pledges initially made in 2015. The federal council also gave the final consent in December 2019.
Figure 1. Final discussion of the Klimaschutzgesetz (Climate Protection Law) on 15. November 2019, Berlin
The “Klimaschutzgesetz” (Climate Protection Law) specifies the allowed carbon emissions for individual sectors in the upcoming years. The law tries to encourage all affected parties and sectors to invest in renewable energy solutions and retrofit current buildings. In case a sector goes beyond the assigned thresholds, an immediate action plan has to be provided by the ministry in charge to mitigate and fall back within the allowable limits for that sector. The sectors included are: agriculture, industry, property & housing, energy, waste management and traffic. The figure below shows the allowed carbon emissions for each sector individually. As of 2021, the “Umweltbundesamt” (the Federal Office of Environment) is required not only to publish the annual national emission rates but also to publish individual sectors’ emissions rates. The central government will also revisit it’s total carbon emissions every year to further improve active measure and reduce carbon emissions even more.
Figure 2. Overview of carbon emission targets of each individual sector included: Energy, Industry, Housing, Traffic, Agriculture, Waste and Others.
As part of the climate packet, a climate expert commission will be selected to provide independent guidance and answer all climate related questions.
Individual programs and actions targeting different sectors will slowly be implemented starting in 2020. For instance, to favor carbon friendly travel of citizens, German public transport is planned to be expanded, improved, and optimized over the next years and immediate price reductions are to be expected. Furthermore, the central government agreed to increase taxes on national and international flights ranging from 10-60 €, dependent on the flight distance.
From 2021, a CO2 emission price will initially be set to 10 €/ton and increase to 35€/ton by 2025. The carbon price is limited to fossil fuels used for heating and fuel. This would result in a price increase of 11 cents per liter in 2025. For commuters, a subsidy of up to 38 cents will be granted if the distance to work crosses the 25 km mark.
In the housing sector, citizens who wish to increase the insulating capacity of their property can expect a three years’ tax support through the government. Maximum 40,000 € or 20 % of the property may be freed from tax liability.
With the agreed and endorsed Climate Protection Law, Germany has set a foundation to work hard on achieving the pledges made in Paris in 2015. However, the applicability of the law is yet to be seen. The law does not include a commitment to carbon neutrality and emissions from sea and international air transport are still not included into the law. Concrete use prohibitions are also not included in the law.
Activity Rating: ***Right Direction
Over the last few years, Germany has not done enough to achieve the initially made carbon pledges in Paris 2015. It is therefore of great importance that the climate protection law has been approved in parliament in 2019. Facing the phase-out of nuclear energy and coal at the same time, Germany is facing a challenge to reduce emissions while ensuring constant energy flow within the country and maintaining its economy. Still, the central government has to target the areas where the highest emissions are currently recorded, which is within the industry agriculture and the traffic sectors. Especially, the industrial and traffic sectors have to be further looked at and prohibitions with consequences will have to be talked about and implemented in the future if carbon pledges are to be met in time.
Dear Minister Altmeier, Dear Minister Scheuer:
The Central Government has done well to agree on a climate protection law, which enforces and puts our climate into the focus of everyday discussions. Specific action plans are now to be developed to meet the agreed targets. Especially, the industry and the traffic sectors need to be targeted with activities which lead to immediate carbon reductions. For example, the further registration of combustion engine vehicles should be given a limit and phased out as of 2030 or earlier. All industries should be encouraged to invest in alternative energy sources or increase energy efficiency in the form of penalties or bonuses. The wind industry, currently being heavily discussed within Germany, needs to be upscaled and expanded if the coal and nuclear phase-outs are to succeed.
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
Link to new Climate Protection Law (December 2019)
Link to summary of new climate protection law (Sueddeutsche Zeitung, November 2019)
Link on overview of Climate Protection Law
This Post was submitted by Climate Scorecard Germany Country Manager Berit Mohr