Council indicates potential problems in implementation of national Climate Change Act
The German Council of Experts on Climate Change has released its latest statement on the federal government’s Climate Action Program. The analysis suggests that Germany hasn’t made sufficient progress towards its national climate targets and further steps are needed.
Since 2021, Germany has been working towards a goal of reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 65% in advance of 2030. The Climate Change Act has proposed about 130 measures to be undertaken to reach this goal. However, at COP27, barely a year after setting these climate objectives, it was already clear that the German targets were seriously at risk. And even if all the measures would be enacted, Germany is expected to be 200 million tonnes of CO2e under its projected goal, according to the Council of Experts on Climate Change.
Statement of the Council of Experts on Climate Change
In its recent statement (in German only) the Council of Experts on Climate Change (in German: Expertenrat für Klimafragen) released its general assessment regarding the progress concerning Germany’s Climate Change Act for 2023. Following an extensive review of the documentation from the federal government, the Council acknowledges that the suggested actions are expected to measurably contribute to effective climate action, yet also raises concern about a lack of substantial data basis provided by the government resulting in “significant inconsistencies and uncertainties” of their analysis. Therefore, the Council declares that they are unable to confirm the impact of the national climate action measures anticipated by the Germany government. At the same time, the Council notes an absence of a comprehensive concept for climate action, and thus assumes that the expected gaps in achieving said climate targets could be larger than the numbers predicted by the German government itself.
In a second plausibility report, released the same day, the Council released a similar opinion on the carbon emission reduction assumptions and plans outlined by the building and transport sectors. The Council reviewed each plan in three areas namely, adherence to the set targets, evaluation of the methodology, and plausibility. Because both sectors had surpassed their respective annual emissions targets in 2022, the Climate Change Act required the responsible ministries to submit an Immediate Action Plan. The building and transport sectors had previously proposed 17 and 50 measures, respectively, which they would take to compensate for the gap in projections. The Council found that although the proposed actions would be suitable for measurably reducing their respective GHG emissions, the reported GHG reductions for the two sectors would not be sufficient to make up for the shortfall in the sectoral targets.
Further efforts and coherent overall concept required
In essence, the Council notes the lack of a coherent, cohesive and consistent overall concept and an overarching framework of measures, and therefore sees an urgent need for further action in the German government's climate protection program. While the Council recognizes important innovations in the Climate Protection Program, particularly in the industrial, building, and transportation sectors, the experts see an urgent need for further action to unlock new climate protection potential. Brigitte Knopf, the deputy chair of the Expert Council and secretary general at the Mercator Research Institute, comments: "It would be necessary to address the reduction potentials of all available action fields, including, for example, the reduction of environmentally damaging subsidies, which is currently only vaguely formulated."
About the Expert Council on Climate Change
The Expert Council on Climate Change is an independent panel consisting of five experts from various disciplines. It was established in September 2020 and is mandated by Sections 11 and 12 of the Federal Climate Change Act (KSG). The panel includes the five members Prof. Dr. Hans-Martin Henning (Chair), Dr. Brigitte Knopf (Deputy Chair), Prof. Dr. Marc Oliver Bettzüge, Prof. Dr. Thomas Heimer, and Dr. Barbara Schlomann. Alongside other statutory duties, the Expert Council assesses measures to be taken in case of target failure according to Section 12(2) KSG with regard to the underlying assumptions on greenhouse gas reduction and provides a statement before the decision on a Climate Action Program according to Section 12(3) KSG.