Climate Change

04 Jan 2024

Germany's 2023 CO2 Emissions Fall to Lowest in 70 Years but Drop Not Yet Sustainable- Study

04 Jan 2024  by reuters   

General view of the decommissioned coal-fired power plant in the Western German Saarland region in Ensdorf, Germany, February 1, 2023. REUTERS/Thilo Schmuelgen/File Photo Acquire Licensing Rights
Germany's carbon dioxide emissions in 2023 fell to their lowest since the 1950s due to less coal-fired power and reduced output by energy-intensive industries, but the decline is unsustainable without climate policy changes, a study said on Thursday.

Germany aims to cut its greenhouse emissions by 65% by 2030 compared with 1990, a step to becoming carbon neutral by 2045.

CO2 emissions in Europe's biggest economy fell last year to 673 million tonnes, the lowest level since the 1950s, 46% below 1990 and beating the government's 2023 climate goal of 722 million tonnes, a study by the Berlin-based Agora Energiewende think tank showed.

Driven by an increase in domestic renewable energy production which now has a share of over 50%, and a rise in imported electricity, coal-fired electricity production fell to its lowest level since the 1960s and contributed to 44 million tonnes of CO2 savings, the study showed.

While Germany aims to phase out coal by 2038, economy minister Robert Habeck has advocated an earlier exit by 2030, a date already agreed in western German states but resisted by the eastern brown coal belt.

Industry emissions met government targets, falling 12% year-on-year, at 144 million tonnes, following an 11% drop in energy-intensive output, it added, warning that that fall could be lost this year with the sector's recovery.

Energy-intensive manufacturers scaled down production last year due to rising gas prices in Europe following a shift from Russian piped gas supply to liquefied natural gas imports in the aftermath of Moscow's invasion of Ukraine.

"The consequences of the fossil energy crisis and the slowdown in the economy are particularly evident in the CO2 emissions of energy-intensive industries," think tank Director Simon Mueller said in a statement.

Despite the overall drop, the transport and buildings sectors that have fallen short of government emissions targets in recent years, missed their 2023 goal.

With heating the main contributor, buildings emitted 109 million tonnes of CO2 last year, a 2.7% fall on the year, but above Germany's target of 101 million tonnes.

A bill introduced last year to encourage green energy and communal heating must be quickly implemented to put the sector back on track for 2030, Mueller added.

In the transport sector, CO2 emissions fell by 2% from 2022 to 145 million tonnes, missing the 133 million tonnes goal. Electric cars' market share stagnated at 20%, the study showed and it suggested tax subsidies reforms and an expansion of public transport to reach the target.

The study said meeting 2030 CO2 targets needed government financing, which has become significantly tighter after last year's constitutional court ruling that cancelled some 60 billion euros of unused debt earmarked for climate projects.

"A clever mix of instruments can ensure that we achieve more climate protection for every euro from the state treasury," Mueller added.


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