A general view of the coal-fired power plant of the German utility RWE in Neurath, Germany, 17 January 2023. EPA-EFE/RONALD WITTEK


Germany set to miss 2030 climate goals, report finds


Germany will not be able to meet its emission reduction target by the end of the decade, a panel of government climate advisers has warned.

A report by the country’s Expert Council for Climate has claimed that greenhouse gas emissions in the country remain too high, criticising claims made by German climate protection minister Robert Habeck and the country’s Federal Environment Agency (UBA) that reductions were on track.

Responding to the UBA’s forecast, the Council of Experts on Climate Change claimed their analysis was overly optimistic, and that targets set for 2030 would not be achieved.

2024’s emissions were “likely to lie above the emissions pathway of the 2024 projection data” the report warns, before adding that the country was so off target from its emissions goals — a reduction of 65 per cent compared to 20th-century levels by 2030 — that “it should not be assumed that the target will be achieved”.

“After reviewing the data, the Expert Council confirms that total emissions will decrease substantially by 2030, albeit probably less sharply than determined in the projection data,” council Chairman Hans-Martin Henning states.

“We consider the projected emissions in the energy, buildings and transport sectors as well as… in industry to be underestimated.”

The council mainly attributed this to Germany reducing the budget for certain green projects such as the Climate and Transformation Fund.

Additionally, fluctuations in market expectations for gas prices and CO2 certificate prices in the EU Emissions Trading System (EU ETS) have also been identified as influential factors.

The report also cites the closure of nuclear power plants, together with the use of coal and hydrogen to replace them, as a factor in the higher-than-expected level of emissions.

“The installed capacity of natural gas increases only slightly in the 2024 projection data from 32.3 GW in 2024 to 34.1 GW in 2030. The expansion of hydrogen power plants as part of the power plant strategy is not taken into account in the projection,” the council wrote.

“If backup capacities are too low, an extension of coal-fired power generation and thus an increase in greenhouse gas emissions is possible.

Henning concluded: “Overall, we cannot confirm the cumulative target achievement for the years 2021 to 2030 shown by the 2024 projection data.”

“On the contrary, we assume that the target will not be met.” 

Responding to the report, a representative from the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Protection acknowledged “uncertainties” in the UBA projected data.

He did point to new government decisions, such as the closing of 18 coal-fired power plants in April and the expansion of solar energy.

Missing the climate targets could also have budgetary consequences in Europe.

If Germany does not achieve its goals, it must purchase emissions rights from others that have done so.

These penalties could end up costing Germany billions in the coming years.