Germany’s Government Discussing Conflicting Climate Strategies

Germany’s Government Discussing Conflicting Climate Strategies

Earlier this year it became evident that Germany will fail to achieve its emission reduction targets of 40% by the end of the year, reaching a reduction of only 35.7% compared to the 1990 levels. According to two independent studies ordered by the Ministries of Environment and Economy, at current conditions and standing policies the 2030 targets of 55% reduction would not be achieved. Several government agencies published plans to tackle these issues and make sure the goals would be achieved in the future.

On October 1st, the Federal Ministry of the Environment published a draft of a 300-page sustainability strategy for Germany for the next 10 years. The draft is available for the public to review and react on until the end of the month. The plan should be finalized by the end of the year and approved in early 2021. The strategy couples both old and new measures such as implementing nation-wide infrastructure for charging electric cars, introducing a national emission pricing trading scheme to cover emissions not covered by the EU mechanism, offering tax benefits on energy efficient heating systems, and banning the installation of oil and coal-based heating systems by 2026.

Following the failure to fulfill the reduction criteria for 2020, the Ministry of Economics and Energy published a 20-point “climate charter” plan intending to foster better cooperation with the business sector and achieve the country’s emission reduction target. The plan involves incorporating yearly reduction targets starting 2022, compiling public entities to reach climate neutrality by 2035, and creating a national certification system and public scoreboard. In addition, the Ministry plans to reform the national emission trading scheme, raise the availability of renewable electricity to the business sector, and fund research through a designated “climate university” foundation.

The plan has been widely criticized by environmental organizations, opposition politicians, and the Minister of the Environment primarily because to the vagueness of these measures and their focus on benefits to the business sector. The discussions regarding these two documents is expected to intensify during 2021, an election year in Germany in which Climate Change is expected to be a major topic.

The field of transportation has seen two new developments recently. Firstly, the federal government both reduced the taxation of railway tickets and will operate express trains starting in 2022. This is in an effort to offer fast, affordable alternatives to flights. Express trains in Germany run on electricity from renewable resources yet ticket prices tend to be higher than those of low-cost flights. The VAT on train tickets was reduced from 19% to 7% with a goal to double the number of express train rides by 2025. As part of this plan to encourage usage of public transport, 2 billion euros were dedicated towards improving existing infrastructure over the next five years.

Secondly, a comprehensive subsidy package for electric cars was introduced. Company efforts to increase the production of electric cars is being further supported along with a plan to expand the nation-wide presence of charging stations. Individuals who purchase an electric car before 2021 are eligible to receive grants of 6,000-7,500 euros.

Activity Rating: *** Right Direction

Germany is taking its climate commitment seriously and the need to do a better job achieving its reduction goals is a cross-party consensus. Given the pressing nature of an election year, it is important to make sure that policy papers published will address relevant problems and direct resources to where they are needed while avoiding populist measures.

The transparency around the discussions and opening the long-term strategy from the Ministry of Environment for public review is a positive step. The 20-point plan from the Ministry of Economy is, however, using big declarations yet fails to give certain data on their implementation or specific goals to be achieved.

The difference between the focus of the documents, as well as the different measures in the field of transportation, shows the different agendas of the relevant political actors in the current coalition. While the need to reduce emissions is agreed upon, it is questionable whether all political actors are willing to take drastic measures, which might affect the business sector. These conflicts might intensify as the next elections draw near.


To react on Germany’s sustainability strategy 2030, you can send an email to: until October 31st.

Additional remarks can be sent to the responsible ministers:

Federal Minister of the Environment
Svenja Schulze
Bundesministerium für Umwelt, Naturschutz und nukleare Sicherheit
11055 Berlin

Federal Minister for Economy and Energy
Peter Altmaier
Bundesministerium für Wirtschaft und Energie
11019 Berlin


The 20-point plan of the Economy and Energy:

Germany’s Sustainability Strategy 2030:

The federal government’s summary of ongoing climate protection measures:

This Post was submitted by Climate Scorecard Germany Country Manager Zahi Badra

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