Germany likely to miss 2030 climate goal, government advisors say

By Thomson Reuters Jun 3, 2024 | 5:27 AM

By Riham Alkousaa and Markus Wacket

BERLIN (Reuters) – Germany is likely to miss its 2030 greenhouse gas targets, government climate advisors said on Monday, contradicting the climate minister’s prediction in March and calling for new policy measures.

The Expert Council on Climate Issues, which has independent authority to judge the country’s climate performance, said Germany is unlikely to meet its goal to cut 65% of greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 compared to 1990 because sectors such as transport and construction are struggling to meet their targets.

Its findings come after Germany just introduced a more flexible climate protection law in April that gives leeway to underperforming sectors such as transport. However, the Climate Protection Act will also require the government to take corrective measures for the 2030 target if the Expert Council on Climate Issues confirms its findings in its next annual report in 2025.

In March, Climate Protection Minister Robert Habeck, citing data by the Federal Environment Agency (UBA), said Germany was on track for the first time to meet its climate targets after emissions fell by 10% in 2023.

The council, however, said UBA’s earlier estimates for almost all economic sectors were too optimistic, adding that Germany will not be on track even after 2030, jeopardizing the country’s goal to become climate neutral by 2045.

“Against this background, we recommend not waiting for the target to be missed again, but rather examining the timely implementation of additional measures,” the council’s Chairman Hans-Martin Henning said in a statement.

Germany’s Climate Protection Act was agreed after months of wrangling by the government coalition of the Social Democrats, Greens and pro-business FDP. The FDP, which leads the transport ministry, campaigned for changes to give some leeway to some individual sectors that consistently fall behind as long as the national CO2 limits were not exceeded.

With specific sectors now off the hook, drafting more ambitious climate measures will be the responsibility of the entire government, the reformed law says, without making clear who would be in charge.

Even with a more flexible national climate law, Germany will have to meet the European Union targets and risks paying billions of euros for emissions certificates or fines if it fails to do so.

(Reporting by Riham Alkousaa and Markus Wacket; Editing by Susan Fenton)