The German government is due to revise its emission reduction targets after the country’s Constitutional Court ruled that current climate protection measures were insufficient, aiming to become greenhouse gas neutral by 2045 rather than 2050.
Finance Minister Olaf Scholz and Environment Minister Svenja Schulze on Wednesday presented a legislative proposal to cut emissions by 65% from 1990 levels by 2030. An 88% reduction in emissions of carbon must be reached by 2040.
Germany’s emissions levels are currently 40% lower than they were in 1990, meaning it would take a further 25 percentage point reduction over the next nine years to reach its next target.
The German cabinet could ratify the Social Democratic ministers’ proposal next week if, as expected, it finds the support of its main coalition partners, Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union.
“We will reinforce our efforts again for the year 2030”, declared the Chancellor, stressing that her government “will do everything to achieve the objective of climate neutrality by 2045”.
The German coalition government was surprisingly optimistic about the Constitutional Court’s announcement last Thursday. Leading ministers from both parties welcomed a decision that effectively criticizes them for compromising the freedom of young people by postponing inevitable reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.
The case was brought by young environmental activists, supported by Fridays for Future, Greenpeace, German Friends of the Earth (BUND) and other NGOs.
The government has yet to explain what concrete steps it will take to meet the new targets, whether by revising its carbon pricing system or accelerating the phase-out of coal-fired power, currently slated for 2038.
“Matching numbers to actions will require the kind of major effort this country has rarely seen,” the Süddeutsche Zeitung wrote. “This could make the Federal Republic an international beacon and help mitigate the worst effects of the climate crisis. But this coalition government prefers to leave the details to its successors. “
The debate over emissions targets comes five months ahead of Germany’s national elections on September 26, and against the backdrop of several polls showing a lead for the Greens.
The Green Party is pushing the outgoing government to double its investment in climate protection measures by € 8 billion (£ 7 billion) by 2025.
“We have ambitious goals, it’s a step in the right direction,” Greens co-leader Robert Habeck said on Thursday. “But the main challenge is to follow the numbers with stocks, and in that regard the government is ignoring.”
Halbeck, who lost to co-leader Annalena Baerbock in the race to become her party’s candidate for chancellor, said the Green Party would seek a 70% cut in emissions by 2030 and urged the government to develop renewable energy sources, reduce subsidies for coal-fired electricity and increase the price of greenhouse gas emissions in the transport and construction sectors.