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German Bundestag: Insufficient balance sheet

Photo: Wolfgang Maria Weber / IMAGO

It's just not enough. The team of experts of the Climate Action Tracker (CAT) has added up all the climate protection efforts of the traffic light politicians. Even if all regulations and laws are implemented as they are now in the government's climate protection program, Germany will not achieve its self-imposed climate targets in 2030, and the balance sheet is only "insufficient". In addition, Germany would not make a "fair contribution" to maintaining the 1.5-degree target in terms of its emissions. In the Paris Climate Agreement, the countries had committed themselves to keeping global warming below 1.5 degrees compared to the pre-industrial era.

The researchers regularly calculate where countries stand in achieving their climate targets. To do this, they are studying 40 countries that produce up to 85 percent of global emissions and are home to 70 percent of the world's population. So far, none of the countries has achieved the best category of "1.5 degree compatible".

After all, the assessment of German climate policy has already improved: Just a few years ago, analysts rated German climate policy as "highly inadequate".

The pluses and minuses for the halfway point of the traffic light

CAT bases its calculations on the current projection report of the Federal Environment Agency and the recently published report of the Expert Council on Climate Issues, whose members came to a similar conclusion. According to the researchers' analysis, the federal government fails on the following points:

  • Reform of the Climate Protection Act: The Federal Cabinet has adopted the draft for a fundamentally revised climate protection law. Compliance with the climate targets is no longer to be monitored retrospectively according to different sectors such as transport, industry or agriculture – but over several years and across sectors.

  • Inadequate transport policy: There is a lack of a coherent plan for the transport transition, inefficient e-fuel technologies are promoted, 144 new motorway projects are prioritised and public transport is not sufficiently developed.

  • The Building Energy Act: Actually, at the beginning of 2024, only heating systems that run on at least 65 percent renewable heat should be installed. However, the government has undermined this goal with transitional periods. For example, gas heating systems can still be installed in the coming years. In addition, the law has not yet been finally adopted, there could be further weakening.

  • Construction of liquefied natural gas terminals: The authors criticize overcapacity. Actually, gas consumption should be reduced, and some of the planned terminals would not be needed.

  • Climate money: the idea of social compensation for climate protection measures has so far been put on hold, due to bureaucratic hurdles, and the amount of the disbursement is also unclear so far

On the positive side, the researchers mention two aspects:

  • The expansion of renewables is on the right track and the early coal phase-out in North Rhine-Westphalia is also a plus.

  • The 49-euro ticket makes it possible to switch from car to local transport at low cost

According to the researchers, the bottom line is that Germany's own reduction target is "almost sufficient". But that is only half the truth, because the German climate target is set too low. It is based on a 2-degree warming (see graph above). If, on the other hand, one assumes a "fair contribution" from Germany to global climate protection and the more ambitious 1.5 degrees, the efforts would be "insufficient".

The following applies to both categories: If measures are further weakened or even overturned in the event of a change of government, the valuation could deteriorate again quite quickly. Everything now depends on the coming years and the implementation, co-author of the analysis Niklas Höhne of the NewClimate Institute told SPIEGEL.

"It seems that the German government has given up on achieving its own climate target for 2030. It can no longer be achieved without readjustments in the transport and building sectors," criticizes Höhne. The necessary jolt is not foreseeable, actually the coalition should "switch to emergency mode instead of getting caught up in party politics".