Germany is boosting its 2030 carbon reduction goal to 65% and accelerating its net-zero emissions deadline from 2050 to 2045, spurred on in part by last week’s “globally remarkable” constitutional court ruling that declared the country’s previous 2030 target inadequate.
The other factor driving the change in plan is the public opinion gains the opposition Green Party has begun racking up ahead of national elections in September, Reuters reports.
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In the latest announcement, “Finance Minister Olaf Scholz said Germany would now aim for a 65% cut in carbon emissions by 2030 and 88% by 2040,” the news agency writes. “The existing climate law, agreed between Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives and their Social Democrat (SPD) coalition partners in 2019 after much wrangling, includes a commitment to reduce CO2 emissions by at least 55% by 2030 from 1990 levels, and net-zero CO2 by 2050.”
“It is important for the future of our country that we now get serious about the CO2 reduction targets, but also about the expansion of the infrastructure that is indispensable for this,” Scholz said. “Germany’s entire future economic performance depends on more renewable electricity,” so that “this is Germany’s central growth and future issue. It must be answered now, and it must be answered seriously.”
He added that the Constitutional Court’s “cool ruling” had enabled “a new push” on targets he said would be achievable, Clean Energy Wire writes.
Environment Minister Svenja Schulze called the new plan “a fair offer for the younger generations in that we are not leaving the biggest burden for the future. Each decade, each generation takes responsibility.”
Intergenerational equity was at the centre of the constitutional court ruling, which called on the national government to toughen up its targets by the latter part of next year. “Politicians, including those who passed the 2019 law, rushed to welcome the top court ruling at a time when the environmentalist Greens are increasingly seen as the party to beat in the September national election,” Reuters says.
“With the Greens topping most opinion polls, the ruling parties had sought to quickly agree on changes to CO2 emissions targets, though consensus had appeared difficult to reach until Wednesday’s announcement by Scholz.”
The new targets are still receiving some pushback, Clean Energy Wire writes. “Alarmed by the ruling of the Federal Constitutional Court, the German government is now lapsing into climate target actionism,” said economist Thilo Schaefer of the German Economic Institute (IW Köln). In lieu of new targets, he called for funding for expanded renewable energy capacity, incentives to invest in climate-friendly technology, new infrastructure, and looser regulatory barriers.
“This is the only way German companies can remain competitive,” he said. “Pure climate actionism, on the other hand, is nonsense: in climate policy, it is not the one with the most ambitious goals that wins, but the one with the best approaches for action.”
Germany’s emissions already stand 40% below the 1990 threshold, Reuters notes. In Canada, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has promised a 40 to 45% reduction by 2030, based on a 2005 baseline that is far higher than the country’s historical emissions in 1990.