Germany is unlikely to meet its climate goals without a “paradigm shift” in policy

Government advisors have cautioned that Germany’s current climate strategy may require a fundamental overhaul if the country is going to meet its targets for the reduction of emissions. During the presentation of the supervisory body’s first overall assessment of climate policy, the chair of the country’s Council of Experts on Climate Change, Hans-Martin Henning, stated that it is “questionable whether future climate goals can be achieved without a paradigm shift on climate policy.” Hans-Martin Henning said this because it is “questionable whether future climate goals can be achieved without a paradigm shift on climate policy.”

The council stated that current rates of emission reduction are nowhere near sufficient to meet Germany’s goal of cutting emissions by at least 65 percent by 2030 compared to levels in 1990, neither in total nor in the various sectors. According to the findings of the analysis, the current expansion rates of solar and wind power, heat pumps, and electric cars are far too low to meet the objectives set by the government. In order to put this paradigm shift into action, the council suggested setting a strict limit on the amount of emissions that are acceptable. This would replace the existing tactic of tackling emissions in only an indirect manner, such as by increasing the usage of renewable energy sources. This strategy would call for the implementation of new policies in order to prevent adverse effects on the economy and society. According to Henning, “Climate policy would then no longer be predominantly an emissions reduction policy, but increasingly an economic and social policy under the new framework which imposes a hard limit on quantities.” This statement was made in light of the fact that “climate policy would then no longer be predominantly an emissions reduction policy.”

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The council made reference to the existing European emissions trading system (ETS), which led to significant reductions in emissions produced by the energy sector. The experts pointed out that although Germany already has a CO2 pricing in place for the buildings and transportation sectors, the scheme does not contain a cap on emissions. If there were no absolute limit placed on emissions, governments would have to place a far greater emphasis on changing people’s behaviors and deconstructing technologies that rely on fossil fuels in order to increase the likelihood of meeting their climate goals. Greenpeace stated in its initial response to the study that the expert council had revealed a “gaping hole” in the toolbox of German climate policy. “The shift toward technologies that produce no emissions cannot be accomplished just via the use of financial incentives. “The German government needs to focus more on removing anything that has caused the climate disaster, without disregarding the faster spread of renewables,” Greenpeace said. The organization added that heating systems that utilize fossil fuels and cars need to be phased out more quickly.

Environmental Action Germany (DUH), a non-governmental organization, referred to the report as a “outstanding testament to the full failure” of the climate strategy of the German government. DUH stated that it would file a lawsuit against the government for breaking the laws that are already in place if the government did not respond sufficiently to this “slap in the face.” Separate analyses conducted by the council have already resulted in the rejection of Germany’s proposals to reduce emissions in the building and transportation sectors. The country’s response to the conflict in Ukraine has been to expand its reliance on coal-powered electricity, which will likely lead to a marginal increase in emissions this year.

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