Germany achieves climate target – activists hold Scholz accountable

Last year fewer greenhouse gases were emitted in Germany. The climate target has thus been met. Nevertheless, there are outliers.

According to preliminary figures, emissions of climate-damaging greenhouse gases fell slightly in Germany last year. In this way, the Federal Republic of Germany has achieved the overall target laid down in the Climate Protection Act, despite the increase in coal-fired power generation. The Federal Environment Agency (UBA) announced on Wednesday in Berlin that a good 15 million tons fewer greenhouse gases were released than in 2021. This corresponds to a decrease of 1.9 percent.

Compared to 1990, which is the reference year for the federal government’s climate targets, emissions have fallen by 40.4 percent. The figures are still provisional – definitive figures will not be known until the beginning of next year.

Energy crisis causes emissions to rise

The most significant increase in emissions was in the energy sector. According to this, the sector has 10.7 million tons more greenhouse gases than in 2021, but can still meet the climate targets. The reason for the increased emissions is the savings in comparatively more climate-friendly natural gas due to the Ukraine war and the associated sanctions against Russia.

Instead, the industry increasingly relied on more climate-damaging hard coal and lignite. The increase in emissions was cushioned by a nine percent increase in electricity generation from wind, solar and water.

Germany's greenhouse gas emissions
(Source: Ulrike Frey/t-online)

“Despite the overall decline in energy use, especially in industry, there has been an increase in greenhouse gas emissions since the summer of 2022 due to the increased use of hard coal and lignite in the energy industry,” said UBA President Dirk Messner.

The consequences of the energy crisis can also be seen in the industrial sector: Here, due to the rise in energy prices, emissions fell significantly by 19 million tons of CO2 or 10.4 percent.

Traffic tears climate goals again clearly

As in 2021, the climate targets tore the building and transport sectors. The latter was the only sector that simultaneously recorded an increase compared to the previous year and exceeded the permitted level of emissions for 2022.

Despite the particularly high fuel prices and the 9-euro ticket for local public transport, emissions from road traffic have increased by more than a million tons of CO2, explained the UBA. The transport sector missed the climate target by nine million tons. The buildings sector was able to reduce emissions, but also missed the target.

Sharp criticism from activists

With regard to the official estimate of the emission of climate-damaging greenhouse gases, the climate protection movement Fridays for Future accuses the governing coalition of irresponsible inertia and in particular the FDP of a targeted blockade policy. Few show “the absurdity and lack of ambition of the climate protection law as clearly as compliance with the climate targets despite increased fuel and energy consumption,” according to the organization.

Luisa Neubauer: The 26-year-old is Germany's best-known climate activist.Luisa Neubauer: The 26-year-old is Germany's best-known climate activist.
Activist Luisa Neubauer (archive): “A black day for the traffic light, the climate and us.” (Quelle: Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

Activist Luisa Neubauer spoke of a major failure on Twitter. “The sector targets are not about New Year’s resolutions that unfortunately were not kept,” she wrote. “It’s about binding climate targets, about their own laws, which the government is actively undermining.”

“A black day for the traffic light, the climate and us”

Climate protection is a core task of the traffic light coalition, Neubauer continued. They are speechless when they fail to meet the targets in the transport sector. Federal Transport Minister Volker Wissing (FDP) and FDP party leader Christian Lindner not only refused scientific knowledge, but also their own claim to efficiency and “climate protection through innovation”, she criticized. It was “a black day for the traffic light, the climate and us,” said the activist.

Activist Annika Rittmann said on t-online request: “It can hardly be surpassed in terms of absurdity that a climate goal should be met with this balance sheet at all.” The report by the UBA shows “once again the failure of the traffic light in terms of climate policy”. Already in the morning she had said that the self-proclaimed “Climate Chancellor” Olaf Scholz was now responsible for implementing the measures agreed in the law and in the coalition agreement in the fight against global warming.


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