Is Germany now a climate nebula?

Germany should be climate neutral by 2045. But how well will the country perform internationally to achieve its goals? Despite the new goals, researchers no longer classify the Federal Republic as a role model.

It’s nothing less than the central question of Germany’s future, “Federal Finance Minister Olaf Schultz (SPD) said in a presentation of the new climate targets last week. Now these have been passed by the Federal Cabinet.

Germany now wants to be climate neutral five years earlier than previously planned: instead of 2050, the new target is 2045. By 2030, Germany’s greenhouse gas emissions will be reduced by 65%. “Nobody can hold back,” said Environment Minister Svenia Schultz at ARD Morgenmajazen.

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Is the goal of climate protection in Germany ambitious?

But how does Germany deal with its new destinations in the international comparison?

In absolute terms, China has been the largest climate engine to date. It is followed by the USA, India and Russia. Germany is ranked eighth. There are big differences in future ambitions, especially for achieving the 1.5 ° Paris climate agreement target. Two countries were surprised by the analysis of climate targets for the New Climate Action Tracker (CAT) Climate Action Tracker Project.

China (“Very Inadequate”)

China has signed the Paris Climate Agreement and has sent similar goals to the United Nations (UNCCR). However, these are somewhat ambiguous. The People’s Republic of China wants to have peaked carbon dioxide emissions by 2030 and China wants to be climate neutral before 2060. However, according to CAT, it is not clear if this refers only to CO2 emissions or all Greenhouse gases together.

Even after the Hypothetical Climate Conference held by US President Joe Biden a few weeks ago, Chinese President Xi Jinping abandoned the previous strategy. “It is disappointing that China places great emphasis on continuing its reliance on coal, oil and gas,” said Bill Hare, chief climate analyst.

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USA (“Critically Inadequate”)

Under President Joe Biden, the United States has formulated new climate goals. By 2030, the President of the United States wants to reduce greenhouse gases by 50 percent compared to 2005. This is a marked change from the era of Donald Trump. Chancellor Angela Merkel commented, “I am very happy that the United States of America has returned to climate policy.”

(Quelle: Climate Action Tracker)

However, the United States is currently at the bottom of the climate index and is described as “seriously insufficient” in combating the climate crisis. According to the NewClimate Institute, even their new target will not be enough to limit the world to 1.5 degrees of global warming; This will require a reduction of 57 to 63 percent. The United States has yet to catch up, especially in the transportation sector. By 2030, nearly all cars sold should be electric or hydrogen-based.

Germany (“Very Inadequate”)

Germany has so far fallen behind the stated goal of the Paris climate agreement with its actions. The new climate protection law is supposed to change that and put Germany on its path to climate neutrality. “It’s an ambitious goal of climate protection, but it’s also possible,” said Federal Reserve Finance Minister Schultz. Greenhouse gas emissions will be gradually reduced compared to 1990. By 2030, they must be at least 65 percent, by 2040, at least 88 percent.

    (Quelle: Climate Action Tracker) (Quelle: Climate Action Tracker)

This would improve Germany significantly, but according to CAT 2030, it would still be slightly below the required mark of 69 percent for greenhouse gases. But the new goals are only framework conditions; Individual ministries must ensure that they are actually implemented. Additionally, forests and swamps are included as a carbon dioxide lowering agent. “Too Much Calculations” and “Half-Baked Plans” is the verdict of activist Carla Rimtsma on “Friday for the future.”

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Morocco (“Compliant with the Paris Agreement 1.5 ° C”)

The only two countries currently working under the Paris Climate Agreement are Gambia and Morocco in the Convention Against Torture. With wind power and solar power plants such as “Ouarzazate”, one of the largest power plants in the world, Morocco wants to generate half of its electricity needs from renewable energies by 2030. However, the Kingdom currently still relies on coal-fired power stations and imports. Morocco benefits from the fact that its emissions per capita are historically low.

Solar power plant in Morocco: The kingdom wants to increase its production of renewable energies.  (Source: Imago / Xinhua Pictures)Solar power plant in Morocco: The kingdom wants to increase its production of renewable energies. (Source: Xinhua / Imago Images)

Sweden’s ambition

Not all countries are currently individually registered for the Climate Action Tracker. However, NewClimate and the non-governmental organization Germanwatch have been publishing the climate index for years. Sweden ranks first in the world, ahead of England and Denmark. “Sweden has always been a country that says,“ We ​​have to get more ambitious, ”says analyst Mary Jane Cordzel of the New Climate Institute to Focus. Germany is ranked 19. However, there is not a single country that is ranked as a true leader. The first three places are currently empty.

Nevertheless, Niklas Hohn, president of the New Climate Institute, tells Deutsche Welle: “The argument that we do something, but others don’t exist,” no longer applies.

Are Chinese citizens the biggest drivers of climate change than the Germans?

However, two aspects are quickly forgotten in such comparisons: in order to be able to compare how much climate change affects each country, it is also important to take into account the number of people who live in a country. China has far more citizens than the entire European Union. According to the Emissions Database for Global Atmospheric Research (EDGAR), Germany’s per capita carbon dioxide emissions are slightly higher than in China, but with just over 8 tons, both are well behind the USA by 15 tons.

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Additionally, states are not solely responsible for their emissions. China is often referred to as the “world workbench”. Meanwhile, production facilities have been moved from Europe to Asia. This means that carbon dioxide emissions are also shifting abroad. So if a car was produced in China but purchased in Germany, that would have a negative impact on China’s carbon footprint.

This means, for example, that the Pacific island of Palau, which has a population of about 19,000, consumes nearly 60 tons of carbon dioxide per capita. But the islanders themselves are not the real problem. About a hundred thousand tourists come to the islands every year – by ship and plane.

“Man’s moment on the moon in Europe”

Scientists who have published a study on retail carbon dioxide emissions in Nature Climate Change have reached the conclusion that “the country of origin as an investor should bear greater responsibility for reducing carbon emissions.”

With the new law, Germany’s industrialized nation now wants to take on more responsibility for climate protection. Within a few weeks, however, goals may have to change again. Because the European Union also wants to lead the way in climate protection. “This is a man’s moment on the moon in Europe,” said European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen. In July, the specific requirements of the member states will be followed, which means that a new climate protection law may be necessary for Germany.

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