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Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government pledged to eliminate greenhouse gas emissions by 2045, five years earlier than its previous goal. Her cabinet is due to sign off the new law this week before it goes to parliament for approval.
The amended law now also raises Germany’s greenhouse gas emission cut target for 2030 to 65 percent (from 55 percent planned before) and introduces an interim target of 88 percent by 2040.
However, that would still not be compatible with the terms of the Paris Agreement and a target of at least 69 percent is needed, according to the Climate Action Tracker.
The Paris Agreement’s goal is to limit global warming to well below 2C, preferably to 1.5 degrees Celsius, compared to pre-industrial levels.
Figures from Greenpeace claimed the proposed reduction path would see 91 percent of Germany’s remaining CO2 budget used up by 2030.
Chancellor Angela Merkel
Climate change activists
Author Karsten Smid claimed the limited CO2 budget will be exceeded massively by 32 percent by 2045.
With the old Climate Protection Act, 96 percent of the remaining budget would already be used up by 2030, they said.
Germany would, therefore, exceed its budget by a total of 64 percent.
Greenpeace went on to say the only conclusion is an early phase-out of coal by 2030 to allow Germany to get back on track.
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Greens leader Annalena Baerbock
The environmental group said: “The governing coalition is avoiding a concrete CO2 budget and a fair distribution of the reduction burdens between the generations.
“It ignores the core statements of the judgment by the Constitutional Court.”
Brigitte Knopf, member of the Federal Government’s Climate Expert Council, said the goals set out in the new Climate Protection Act are “consistent” with the EU targets.
She said: “The new goals in the Climate Protection Act are consistent with the recently adopted tightening of targets at European level.
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“Germany is contributing a somewhat larger share of this tightening of the target, as it corresponds to the European burden-sharing.”
Other environmentalists have hit out at the CO2 budget and said they can only be achieved if “massive amounts of CO2” are removed from the atmosphere later.
Niklas Höhne, from the New Climate Institute, said: “The global goal of the Paris Climate Protection Agreement, to limit the temperature increase to well below two degrees in the direction of 1.5 degrees, can be broken down into national states in various ways.
“It is assumed that every country should only emit a certain limited amount of CO2 in the future.”
Chancellor Angela Merkel
He added: “No matter how you calculate the budget, you never get to the German or European goals.
“The budgets can only be achieved if massive amounts of CO2 are extracted from the atmosphere later.”
Oliver Geden from the Science and Politics Foundation (SWP) found the CO2 budget approach difficult for other reasons.
He said: “Greenhouse gas neutrality is much more difficult to achieve because methane and nitrous oxide emissions from agriculture can hardly be eliminated.
Climate change activists in Germany
“The relationship will shift in the direction of the other greenhouse gases though.”
Economics and energy minister Peter Altmaier defended the new CO2 targets and said: “With the new climate protection law passed in the cabinet today, we are putting the federal government’s climate protection policy on a new, more ambitious basis.
“We are thus treading the bridge into a climate-neutral age.
“We can and must show that climate protection and the economy are not a contradiction in terms, but rather two sides of the same coin.
“We want the best climate-neutral cars, the best climate-neutral steel and the best climate-neutral raw materials, for example in chemistry, to be produced in Germany in the future.”
Additional reporting by Monika Pallenberg