Paris Agreement targets
The German Parliament unanimously ratified the Paris Agreement in September 2016. Germany did not submit its own NDC but is part of the EU’s target of 55% below 1990 levels excl. LULUCF.
In June 2021, in the wake of a constitutional court ruling that Germany’s climate targets were not strong enough, the government adopted an amendment to its climate law at record speed, which included the following targets (German Government, 2021):
- 65% national emissions reduction below 1990 levels excl. LULUCF by 2030 (up from 55%)
- a new, interim target of 88% below 1990 levels excl. LULUCF by 2040
- climate neutrality by 2045, five years earlier than its previous 2050 net zero date.
CAT analysis finds that to be in line with the 1.5°C limit of the Paris Agreement, Germany’s new 2030 domestic emissions reduction target should aim for reductions of at least 69% below 1990 levels. To fully contribute its fair share Germany would also have to significantly increase its international climate finance.
In addition, the amended law includes stricter binding sectoral emission budgets to 2030, with most of the additional reductions needed in the energy and industry sectors. It further includes targets for natural carbon sinks and strengthens the role of the Expert Council on Climate Change by extending its responsibilities. The expert council verifies the annually calculated emissions projections of the Federal Environment Agency, including its sector allocation.
The CAT rates Germany’s domestic target as “Almost sufficient” and its fair share target as “Highly Insufficient”.
We rate Germany’s 2030 reduction target of 65% below 1990 levels as “Almost sufficient” when compared to modelled emissions pathways. The “Almost sufficient” rating indicates that Germany’s proposed domestic target in 2030 is not yet consistent with the Paris Agreement’s 1.5°C temperature limit but could be, with moderate improvements. If all countries were to follow Germany’s approach, warming could be held at—but not well below—2°C. While the proposed target represents a significant improvement compared to its previous target, Germany’s new target is not stringent enough to limit warming to 1.5°C and needs further improvement.
We rate Germany’s 2030 target of 65% below 1990 levels excl. LULUCF as “Insufficient” when compared with its fair-share emissions allocation. The “Insufficient” rating indicates that Germany’s fair share target in 2030 needs substantial improvement to be consistent with the Paris Agreement’s 1.5°C temperature limit. Germany should both further increase its emissions reduction target and provide significantly more and predictable finance to others to meet its fair-share contribution. Germany’s target is at the least stringent end of what would be a fair share of global effort, and is not consistent with the Paris Agreement’s 1.5°C limit, unless other countries make much deeper reductions and comparably greater effort. If all countries were to follow Germany’s approach, warming would reach over 2°C and up to 3°C.
Germany’s international climate finance is rated “Insufficient” (see below) and is not enough to improve Germany’s fair share rating.
Germany’s international public climate finance contributions are better than most developed countries but still rated “Insufficient.” Germany has committed to increasing its climate finance but contributions to date have been low compared to its fair share as assessed by the CAT. To improve its rating, Germany needs to increase its international climate finance contributions significantly in the period post-2020 and urgently stop funding fossil fuels abroad.
Germany is the biggest European climate finance donor. According to the CAT estimates, its contributions represent more than half of the EU contributions (OECD, 2018). However, due to the high fair share requirements assessed by the CAT, Germany’s current contributions remain “Highly insufficient.”
Most German contributions for climate finance are distributed via bilateral development cooperation. Funding is implemented by Gesellschaft für internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) and KfW Development Bank. Additionally, a separate funding mechanism of the Environment Ministry (BMU) is in place with the International Climate Initiative (IKI). A smaller share is disbursed through contributions to multilateral climate funds. A significant share of the finance takes the form of grants, but Germany also relies on other financial instruments, such as concessional loans (Deutsche Klimafinanzierung, 2021).
Germany remains committed to the USD 100bn goal in climate finance for developing countries per year through 2025, but the USD 100bn goal in itself is insufficient in the period post-2020. At the G7 Summit in June 2021, Germany committed to increase climate finance by EUR 2bn to a total level of EUR 6bn annually by 2025 (Kanzleramt Deutschland, 2021). A clear and sustained increase in international climate mitigation finance is fundamental after 2020.
As part of the E3F coalition, Germany committed to end official trade and finance directed to unabated coal power (Export Finance for Future, 2021). However, Germany still supports fossil fuels abroad, e.g. a public guarantee for gas turbines (Euler Hermes Aktiengesellschaft, 2020). Continued support for fossil fuels undermines the effectiveness of internal climate finance. All G7 countries committed to end “new direct government support for unabated international thermal coal power generation by the end of 2021” (G7 United Kingdom, 2021).
Further information on how the CAT rates countries (against modelled pathways and fair share) can be found here.
Net zero and other long-term target(s)
In June 2021, Germany adopted its 2045 net zero target in its revised climate law. The net zero target generally covers all key elements but fails to meet best practice standards for some of them. Germany also falls under the European Union net zero target (see separate CAT analysis).
Germany’s target covers all sectors and gases, underpinned by an emissions pathway to 2040 and the communication of binding sectoral targets until 2030. International aviation and shipping remain outside of the target’s scope. A periodic and legally-binding review process of measures and interim targets by an Expert Council is in place. Germany provides separate reduction and removal targets with regards to LULUCF but remains unclear on any other carbon removal. The net zero target is enshrined in law in Germany’s Climate Protection Act.
The German government has failed to provide explicit and transparent assumptions on some key elements of its net zero target. The proposed measures aim to achieve net zero on Germany’s own territory, but it remains unclear whether Germany reserves the right to use international offset credits. Lastly, Germany also fails to communicate transparent assumptions on carbon storage and removal.
For the full analysis click here.
In its Climate Action Plan 2050 (German Ministry of the Environment, 2016) Germany had set itself domestic reduction targets including for 2020. The German government had already communicated that it would not reach its former 2020 target of at least 40% reductions below 1990 levels, and pre-pandemic policy projections suggested that it would only reach a 36-37% reduction. However, due to the additional impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the corresponding economic crisis, as well as favorable weather conditions for renewable energy, Germany just managed to meet its 2020 target at 40.7% below 1990 levels excl. LULUCF or 739 MtCO2e in total (German Federal Environment Agency, 2021).