Greenhouse Gas Emissions Decreased in Germany by 42% Compared to 1990 Levels

Greenhouse Gas Emissions Decreased in Germany by 42% Compared to 1990 Levels

Recently Reported Greenhouse Gas Emission Level: 805 Metric Tons in 2019, a Decrease of 42% Compared to 1990 Level (from German data)

According to the most recent estimation published by the Federal Environmental Agency, in 2019 Germany emitted 805 MT of greenhouse gases (UBA, March 2020). This figure represents a decrease of 6.3% from the 2018 levels, a 14.1% decrease from the 2010 levels, and a decrease of 35.6% from the 1990 levels. A per-sector division shows that the most significant decrease happened in the energy sector with a 35% reduction (49 MT reduction) compared to the previous year’s level and a total decrease of 42% compared to the 1990 level. Compared to the global 2016 levels, Germany accounts for 1.6% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Data from the German Environment Agency depicts this decline in greenhouse gas emissions in reference to UN targets.

When looking into the internal division by the type of greenhouse gas, the last batch of data published in spring 2020 refers to the estimated amounts of 2018 and are assembled as following: Carbon Dioxide counts for 88% of emissions, Methane for 6.1%, Nitrous Oxide for 4.1% and Fluorinated Gases for 1.7%.  Comparing to the 1990 base levels, Methane saw the highest of reduction with 64.6%, Nitrous Oxide levels reduced at 45%, and CO2 at 28.2%.

The reduction goals set by the German government are a reduction of 40% by the end of 2020 and 55% by the end of 2030 with an eventual target of reaching greenhouse neutrality by 2050. According to current estimations and models, the 2020 goal is not feasible with current policy measures; however, it might ultimately be achieved due to the reduction in air and road traffic caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The German government has several policy tools in place in order to achieve its goals, such as the Climate Protection Action Plan for 2020 (enacted in 2014). The measures in this plan managed to achieve significant reduction in emissions but not at the desired rate. In 2016 and 2019, respectively, Germany enacted two new policies with the Climate Protection Action Plan for 2050 as well as the Climate Protection Law. The first report on the measures enacted in this law is expected in April 2021.

Activity Ratings

Emissions Level *** / 4 stars

Since 2010 Germany has managed to reduce 14.1% of its greenhouse gas emissions. Overall, the country is not far from achieving its long-term goals in absolute numbers, but upon closer examination once can see a stagnation in these numbers over recent years. Further action is still needed to achieve Germany’s long-term goals for 2030 and 2050.

Existing Policies *** / 4 stars

The impacts of existing measures are analyzed and evaluated in a document published during 2019. Based on the data in this document, decision makers came to a conclusion further measures need to be taken in order to match the long-term goals for 2030 and 2050.

Combined Summary Rating – 6/8 stars


Prof. Dr. Dirk Messner, head of the Umweltbundesamt (Federal Environmental Agency – responsible for measuring emissions and reporting regarding Germany’s emission reduction commitments)

Wörlitzer Platz 1
06844 Dessau-Roßlau

Germany’s national inventory report to the UN according to the Kyoto protocol (July 2020):

GHG emission reduction figures 1990-2018 and an estimation for 2019 (UBA, 15th March 2020):

Detailed analysis if Germany’s GHG emissions 1990-2019 (UBA, in German, 6th July 2020):

Analysis of emission reductions using existing measures – A report of the federal government (BMU, 2019):

Germany’s Climate Protection Law (2019):

Climate Protection Plan 2050 (2016):

Climate Protection Plan 2020 (2014):

Global GHG emissions (2016):

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

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