German CO2 reductions halt as oil and coal use offset renewable energy increases

Due to rising energy prices, mild weather, and a government plea to individuals to conserve energy in light of an unexpected decline in Russian gas shipments, Germany’s energy consumption in 2022 dropped by 4.7% year-over-year to the lowest level since its reunification. The Berlin-based research group stated in a statement on Wednesday that “the increased usage of coal and oil neutralized the reductions in emissions through energy savings”. Despite a record 46% proportion of renewable energy in Germany’s electrical mix, the country’s greenhouse gas emissions last year were roughly 761 million tonnes, above the target of 756 million tonnes and falling short of the 2020 benchmark of a 40% reduction compared to 1990, according to Agora.

Berlin wants to achieve carbon neutrality by 2045 and reduce emissions by 65% by 2030 as compared to 1990, but according to Simon Mueller, director of Agora in Germany, short-term steps to maintain energy security in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine have put the city behind schedule. Germany decided to enable coal-fired power stations to be restarted or have their lifespans extended last summer in order to make up for decreased gas deliveries. The energy sector’s CO2 emissions in 2022 totaled 255 million tonnes, up 3% from the year before but well shy of the 257 million tonnes sector target.

Germany is scheduled to shut down its final three nuclear reactors in April, which is expected to make its electrical sector problems worse. According to Agora, the industrial sector achieved its objective of reducing emissions by 8 million tonnes in 2017 as a result of cost-cutting measures and a drop in production, but the building and transportation sectors fell short of their yearly goals. Regarding the climate targets, this is a warning signal, according to Mueller. The German government is currently embroiled in a protracted debate about climate protection in the transportation industry. Volker Wissing, a liberal FDP member and minister for digitalization, has long resisted tough regulations to reduce emissions in the industry.

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The FDP’s green coalition allies have expressed considerable unease over this, accusing Wissing of failing to implement the important constitutional climate protection judgement from 2021. Robert Habeck, the green minister of economy and climate action, stated on Tuesday that everyone agreed that a significant gap still needed to be closed. “The ministry of transport says: it’s a little less,” he acquiesced. A bit more, we say. In Germany, ministries that fall short of the mandated climate targets must offer remedial actions. A previous proposal by Wissing was rejected for evaluation by an independent expert group because it was completely unsuited for its intended use. But because of the ongoing disagreements inside the government, a revised strategy keeps getting postponed.

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