Germany Set to Miss 2020 Climate Goals: graphs showing that Germany will not achieve the reduction targets in greenhose gas emissions and primary energy consumption by 2020. Data: German Environment Agency, AG Energiebilanzen e.V. Graphic: Bloomberg

By William Wilkes, Hayley Warren and Brian Parkin
15 August 2018

(Bloomberg) – Germany, the nation that did more than any other to unleash the modern renewable-energy industry, is likely to fall short of its goals for reducing harmful carbon-dioxide emissions even after spending over 500 billion euros ($580 billion) by 2025 to overhaul its energy system.

Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government is grappling with the implications of failing to sufficiently raise the renewable share. Those may include extending the life of the most polluting fossil-fuel plants and scaling back future climate pledges under the landmark Paris Agreement, negotiated by more than 190 countries in 2015.

A shortfall in Germany is an ominous signal for other nations struggling to reach their own targets. Emboldened by its prowess in engineering and a consensus across all political parties in favoring green energy, Germany was the first major economy to make a big shift in its energy mix toward low-carbon sources.

Germany’s emissions miss should act as a “wake-up” call to all countries, said Gail Whiteman, professor of environment sustainability at the U.K.’s Lancaster University. “It does not necessarily mean that China or India or even the U.S.A. can’t cut their emissions. The key point is that we need a new kind of climate leadership, both at the nation-state level and across all other actors including companies and mayors.” […]

Merkel, who as environment minister in the 1990s sketched some of the first international climate deals organized by the United Nations, in 2007 pledged to slash emissions by 40 percent by 2020 compared to 1990 levels. She backed that up with more than 100 measures in order to meet that goal. The reductions Germany achieved didn’t have a big impact on the picture for global emissions because of an increase in emissions from developing nations.

“At the time they set their goals, they were very ambitious,” recalled Patricia Espinosa, the lead United Nations envoy on climate change. “It was a political statement that the chancellor was trying to make. What happened was that the industry—particularly the car industry—didn’t come along. Technically they can do it. Economically they can do it. But it’s political.” [more]

Germany’s Failed Climate Goals


Steam rises from the cooling towers of a coal-fired power plant in Germany. Photo: Krisztian Bocsi / Bloomberg

By Tony Czuczka
15 August 2018

(Bloomberg) – It’s sinking in that Germany’s 500 billion-euro ($580 billion) push to promote renewable energy isn't enough to meet its ambitious climate goals.

A look at key targets Germany wants to reach by 2020 by William Wilkes, Hayley Warren, and Brian Parkin suggests shortfalls on all fronts, including reduction of greenhouse-gas emissions. That’s also a setback for Chancellor Angela Merkel, whose government developed a subsidy system for wind and solar farms that sparked a global boom in renewable technology.

The upshot: to keep the lights on, Germany may have to extend the life of the most polluting fossil-fuel plants and scale back future climate pledges.

Merkel’s political bet on renewables and her still-controversial decision to phase out German nuclear plants put her on the hook, particularly after President Donald Trump took the U.S. out of the Paris climate accord. Rising global temperatures, including this summer’s heat and drought in Germany, are adding to the pressure.

If Europe’s biggest economy, and a pioneer in the field, can’t make it, it’s a warning sign for heavy-industry countries such as China — and the world.

A Climate Change Wake-Up Call From Germany

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