Press Release | 14 November 2016

Germany's 2050 Decarbonisation Plan Shows Willingness to Set Positive Example

Major improvements in the Plan however remain inevitable to implement Paris Agreement, Germanwatch says

Marrakech (14th November 2016). The Development and Environment NGO Germanwatch considers Germany's new 2050 Decarbonisation Plan published today a significant first step of Germany implementing the Paris Agreement. The plan by the German Federal Government comes after one and a half a years of intensive inter-ministerial negotiations, a stakeholder process and vigorous public debate. Germany is the first country to adopt a detailed long-term decarbonisation plan.

"This plan is a good basis to start Germany's full transformation to a zero-carbon economy over the next 30 years", says Christoph Bals, Policy Director of Germanwatch. "It also provides just about enough credibility to Germany's G20 presidency next year, and will help set up a G20 process which challenges the other G20 members to adopt ambitious mid-century climate strategies by 2018."

The plan sets very important reduction targets for the year 2030 for individual sectors, particularly power, buildings, industry, transport and agriculture. These sectoral targets add up to 55-56% emissions reductions and can be a major driver of innovation. Germanwatch sees these sector targets as key to providing more certainty on the direction of travel towards decarbonisation to politicians, officials, citizens, companies and investors alike. Another important message of the plan is its clear statement on the EU's 2050 emissions target. The plan suggests for the target to be raised in light of the targets outlined in the Paris Agreement.

"While the plan contains good sectoral targets for 2030, certain gaps still need to be addressed", says Christoph Bals. "The plan does not yet include all the necessary measures to meet those sectoral targets. This is particularly evident with regards to coal. The power sector target translates into a path for reducing coal and lignite consumption by two thirds by 2030, but this is not yet spelled out clearly enough. German civil society will make sure the next government has to deal with these gaps."


Germanwatch Assessment of Germany's 2050 Decarbonisation Plan

•    The German Federal Government has adopted Germany's first 2050 Decarbonisation Plan

•    Its most important achievements are:
o    The plan demands a higher EU 2050 target,
o    it includes stringent 2030 sector targets for the power, buildings, industry, transport and agriculture sectors,
o    it kicks off a process for coal phase-out by setting up a commission "Growth, Structural Change and Regional Development" The Power sector target for 2030 means that more than 60% of coal and lignite has to be phased out until then.  But the next government needs to adopt further concrete measures to phase out coal.

•    The plan reaffirms Germany's 2050 target of 80-95% emissions reductions by 2050 compared to 1990 levels and describes pathways towards reaching that goal. For the medium term - 2030 - the plan defines very important reduction targets for individual sectors: power, buildings, industry, transport and agriculture that add up to 55-56% emissions reductions. This is important because it provides certainty on the direction of travel towards decarbonisation to politicians, officials, citizens, companies and investors. According to several contacts close to the government, the major businesses statement that Germanwatch and the business associations Foundation 2° and BAUM have coordinated, played a significant role in once again including the sector targets in the plan in the last days of the inter-ministerial negotiation process. See the link and info below.

•    Additional positive features:
o    A regional fund with the aim to create new jobs in areas affected by the structural reforms required in the power sector.
o    A paragraph stating the need for further reform in the EU Emissions Trading System in order to generate higher prices, as well as adding a revision clause to the directive. Unfortunately, the explicit suggestion of a carbon floor price that surprisingly entered the draft plan during the negotiation process was deleted in the last hours.
o    Germany’s interim targets for 2030 and 2040 are reaffirmed to be minimum targets.
o    The plan also reflects that Germany's international responsibility is not limited to emissions reductions at home alone. The plan explicitly mentions Germany's international climate finance, which it intends to double by 2020, and the support provided to developing countries for the implementation of their NDC.

•    Yet the plan contains a number of setbacks, too: 
o    The plan does not clearly suggest a higher national 2050 climate target than the current 80-95% below 1990. Only the preamble mentions the ambition to be carbon neutral until 2050. This is incoherent and in sharp contrast with the higher ambition for the EU's 2050 target, as Germany would need to cut emissions above the EU's average. But the EU target ambition increases the pressure to also improve Germany's national target.
o    Another major problem is that the plan does not provide more clarity on how energy intensive industries can reach near-zero emissions by mid-century.
o    The government eventually was too afraid of announcing a final phase-out year regarding the end of the fossil fuel engine on German streets. This would have been the signal the backward looking German car industry needs to be able to swiftly shift its investment policy.
o    While the plan contains good sectoral targets for 2030, it does not yet include measures that would be sufficient to meet those targets in all sectors - more work will be needed on this to send clearer signals.
o    This is particularly evident with regards to coal. While the CO2 target for 2030 clearly means that until then about two thirds of coal and lignite must be phased out, the government lacked the courage to say so more explicitly.

•    The plan will need to be revised regularly. We will continue to work for further improvements - also with the next government - to bring it fully in line with Paris by the time the UNFCCC process expects a first increase in the ambition of NDCs, i.e. by 2018.

•    All in all, the plan is a good start, but needs improvement by the next German government. This plan can deliver the minimum credibility Germany needs when putting ambitious mid-century decarbonisation plans on the G20 agenda during its Presidency in 2017. We expect chancellor Merkel to get all G20 partners to commit to submit their first round of plans by 2018.