Geopolitical Informations

80.68 million (2016)
Total area
357,168 km2

Main legislative bodies

  • Bundestag (Federal Parliament)
  • Bundesrat (Federal Council)

Latest News

Germany adopts 2050 climate action plan after seeming impasse

The German government finally adopted its long-debated climate mitigation plan for 2050 on Friday (Nov. 11), as Deutsche Welle reports. The agreements comes in after months of disputes between different ministers. On Tuesday, Nov. 8, it already seemed that environmental minister Barbara Hendricks would have to travel to the climate COP22 in Marrakesh without having read more…

Germany agrees on the long-discussed fracking ban

After years of discussion, the German Bundestag on Friday (June 24) approved a law which substantially restricts fracking activities in the country. Under the new legislation, hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, will be banned in clay formations, which typically lie between 1,000 and 2,500 meters deep, Reuters reported. Fracking for deep-lying gas (typically 4,000 to 5,000 meters deep) read more…

Petersberg meeting closes on positive note as Merkel and Hollande push for ambitious Paris deal

France and Germany are “firmly decided to take all efforts to reach an ambitious, comprehensive and binding UN climate agreement by the end of this year in Paris”, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and France’s President Francois Hollande said on Tuesday (May 19) in their closing statement of the annual informal meeting in Berlin designed to read more…

Climate Policy Facts


Year Total GHG Emissions Excluding LUCF ( MtCO2e) Total GHG Emissions Excluding LUCF Per Capita ( tCO2e Per Capita) Total GHG Emissions Excluding LUCF Per GDP ( tCO2e / Million $ GDP)
1990 1170.69 13.94 481.07
1991 1141.52 13.47 446.29
1992 1100.8 12.86 422.3
1993 1089.97 12.64 422.37
1994 1075.35 12.41 406.66
1995 1069.19 12.29 397.66
1996 1090.09 12.51 402.25
1997 1054.56 12.05 382.49
1998 1041.13 11.88 370.72
1999 1003.88 11.42 350.89
2000 994.86 11.29 337.42
2001 1008.87 11.6 337.07
2002 993.16 11.39 331.78
2003 984.45 11.28 330.12
2004 985.53 11.3 326.68
2005 954.6 10.93 314.28
2006 965.52 10.79 306.53
2007 935.4 10.43 287.57
2008 938.73 10.5 285.5
2009 876.2 9.76 280.94
2010 903.98 10.11 278.66
2011 882.93 9.85 263.4

The line chart shows the country’s carbon emissions by year, expressed in million tonnes of CO2 equivalent (MtCO2e) for emission totals, and in tonnes of CO2 equivalent (tCO2e) for per capita and per dollar of GDP values. It is based on data from CAIT platform provided by the World Resource Insititute, and updated regularly with the most recent data available.

By selecting or deselecting each item, you can compare or give prominence to particular emission trends.



Energy Source Production (ktoe) TPES (ktoe)
Coal 44978,037 78065,656
Oil 3366,543 101541,244
Natural gas 8906,466 73133,178
Nuclear 25354,364 25354,364
Hydro 1719,054 1719,054
Geothermal 105,597 105,597
Solar thermal 582,791 582,791
Solar photovoltaics 2580 2580
Tide, wave, ocean 0 0
Wind 4592,4 4592,4
Biomass 11037,36 11037,36
Biofuels 9750,06 9715,776
Waste 6742,997 6742,997

The double-doughnut chart shows the country’s energy production and TPES (Total Primary Energy Supply), expressed in thousand tonnes of oil equivalent (ktoe). It is built on data from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development/International Energy Agency libraries, and updated regularly with the most recent data available.

The INNER RING represents the country’s energy production from each energy source, corresponding to the quantities of fuels extracted or produced.

The OUTER RING shows the country’s total primary energy supply of each fuel. It represents the net quantities of fuels made available on the domestic market, after foreign transfers and trading. According to IEA’s definition, TPES equals production plus imports minus exports minus international bunkers plus or minus stock changes.

Differences between production and TPES are significant as they highlight the actual country’s behaviour in the matter of a given energy source. Production values and TPES values of the same energy source may vary widely, especially in case of the much-traded fossil fuels.

Energy data refers to year 2013.


National Policy


Germany is a democratic, federal parliamentary republic with a multi-party, civil-law system. The federal parliament (“Bundestag”) and the federal council (“Bundesrat”) have the legislative power. Whereas the members of the federal parliament are elected directly by the German citizens, the members in the federal council represent the 16 regional states, the so-called “Länder”. The political system is established by the German Basic Law (“Grundgesetz”), which can be grasped as the German constitution. The Basic Law determines also the responsibilities of the federal and the subnational level. Accordingly, the federal council only has to agree to proposed legislation if the issue at stake relates also to the responsibilities of the state governments. However, this is quite frequently the case, as the legislation has to be implemented by state or local agencies. If there is disagreement between the both chambers, a conciliation committee is formed in order to find a compromise.

The Federal President (Head of State) has only a ceremonial role as laid down in the Basic Law. In contrast, the Federal Chancellor runs the government and determines the day-to-day politics. The chancellor is elected by the federal parliament. Currently, Angela Merkel is the German chancellor, in office already since 2005, as there is no time limit. The next elections of the federal parliament will take place in September 2017.

Since the 1980s, Germany has taken a leading role in climate change mitigation and adaptation. All political parties currently represented in the federal parliament support action on climate change. There has traditionally been a long-standing public opposition to nuclear energy, which has contributed to the emergence of the Green Party in the 1980s in West Germany and its success in the continuation compared to other countries.

Germany is a member state of the European Union. Therefore, the EU legislation applies to the country.


As a EU Member State, Germany participates in the Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC) of the European Union, submitted to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in advance to COP21 in Paris in 2015 (see section on ‘International Policy’).

Climate Action Plan 2050 (2016)
The Climate Action Plan of Germany represents the country’s long-term low greenhouse gas emission development strategy as requested under Article 4.19 of the Paris Agreement and has thus been submitted to the UNFCCC. The plan specifies in detail strategic climate measures for the time-frame until 2030 and presents a 2050 vision for several areas of action. As such, it provides an implementation framework for the climate targets of Germany to reduce GHG emissions by at least 55 percent until 2030 compared to 1990 and by 80 to 95 percent until 2050. The latter was already agreed upon in 2010. Hence, the objective of Germany is too become principally GHG neutral by the middle of the century. The following measures and milestones are included in the plan for the different areas of actions, which are also quantified for the year of 2030:

  • Energy: A commission for growth, structural change and regional development will be established, which will start its work at beginning of 2018 and which is supposed to come up with concrete results by the end of 2018. The commission shall develop a mix of instruments, targeting economic development, structural change, social compatibility and climate action. The commission will be based at the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy and will work together with other governmental ministries as well as with the states, municipalities, trade unions and representatives of affected business, branches of industry and regional stakeholders. It is likely that the commission will address the question of the future of coal power plants in Germany and of the respective regions.
  • Buildings: The plan contains a roadmap towards a climate neutral building stock. The further development of energy standards for new buildings and the extensive refurbishment of the existing building stock are key in this consideration. Moreover, funding shall be provided for heating systems based on renewable energy sources.
  • Transport: A climate strategy for road transport shall be created, outlining how GHG emissions can be reduced by 2030. The strategy shall be based on corresponding proposals made at EU level.
  • Trade and industry: A research and development (R&D) programme will be launched in cooperation with the industry to facilitate emission reductions in the industrial sector.
  • Agriculture: The implementation and stringent execution of provisions relating to fertilisers are pivotal to make progress in agriculture in tackling climate change.
  • Land use and forestry: The focus in this areas lies on the preservation and improvement of carbon sequestration through carbon sinks in forests.

In addition to the descriptions of the areas of action, the Climate Action Plan includes some more statements. For instance, it is said that Germany will advocate for a strengthening of the Emission Trading Scheme (ETS) on the level of the EU. Moreover, a review will be carried out to revise the German tax system in order to serve the achievement of the climate targets for 2050. Economic incentives shall be strengthened to encourage the reduction of environmental pollution and the shift to more sustainable production and consumption patterns. Incentives and taxes contradicting or impeding the transition to a low-carbon economy shall be reviewed.
Besides, a learning process is established that shall involve the scientific community and that will be accompanied by a public dialogue process. This way, a raise in ambition shall be enabled as required under the Paris Agreement. Furthermore, a comprehensive impact assessment of the 2030 sectoral targets shall take place. This will allow the adjustments of the sectoral targets after discussion in 2018.
Full document available here as well as a summary (also in other UN languages).

Action Programme on Climate Protection 2020 (2014)
The Action Programme on Climate Protection 2020 shall provide for the reduction of GHG emissions by 62 to 78 million tonnes CO2eq by 2020 in order to meet the voluntary German 2020 target of reducing GHG emissions by 40 percent below 1990 levels. The action programmes includes nine components, including the National Energy Efficiency Action Plan (NAPE) 2014, transport-specific measures, climate-friendly building, a reform of emissions trading, reduction of non-energy related emissions in industry, commerce, trade, services, waste management and agriculture as well as further measures. In addition, the government announced its intention to increase subsidies for energy efficiency measures to EUR 3.4 billion per year based on EUR 2 billion until 2020.
Nevertheless, Germany risks missing its 2020 goal. In 2015, emissions have only been reduced by 27 percent compared to 1990. In 2016, emissions were even rising due to increases in the transport sector.
Full document available here (in German).

Energy and Climate Fund Act 2010
The Act creates the Energy and Climate Fund, which supports measures in the areas of energy efficiency, renewable energies, storage technologies, renovations, climate mitigation and electric mobility. The revenues come inter alia from the auctioning of emission allowances under the ETS. In addition, the law established a separate Energy Efficiency Fund with EUR 300 million in 2015.
Full document available here (in German).

National Climate Initiative 2008
The National Climate Initiative is funded by the revenues from the auctioning of emission allowances under the EU ETS with approximately EUR 280 million per year. It provides funding for climate projects in cultural, social and other public institutions, small-scale CHP (combined heat and power) plants, industry-grade refrigeration technologies and biomass use. But also individual projects, such as innovation support, awareness campaigns and diffusion of energy efficiency technologies, are supported.
Website of the National Climate Initiative (in German).

Integrated Climate and Energy Programme 2007
Approved in 2007 at the Cabinet meeting in Meseberg and slightly widened in 2008, the programme aims at reducing overall greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent by 2020, compared with 1990 levels. It includes the guiding principles of security of supply, economic efficiency and environmental protection. For this purpose, the programme established a comprehensive package of measures, consisting of 29 key elements:

  • Improvement of combined heat and power (CHP) generation, imposing the objective to double the proportion of power generated from CHP to 25 percent by 2020;
  • Expansion of renewable energies in order to achieve a share 25 to 30 percent in power production by 2020;
  • Low-carbon power plant technologies and clean power station technologies;
  • Smart metering and modernisation of energy management systems;
  • Support to programmes for climate mitigation and energy efficiency;
  • Energy efficient products;
  • Provision on the feed-in of biogas in the natural gas grids;
  • Energy saving ordinance (see below);
  • Operational costs of service flats;
  • Modernisation of social infrastructure;
  • Renewable Energy Heat Act (see below);
  • Programme for the energy efficient modernisation of federal buildings and public procurement of energy efficient products and services;
  • CO2 strategy for passenger cars and energy labelling of passenger cars, electric mobility and reform of vehicle tax on the basis of CO2;
  • Reinforcement of the influence of the HGV (heavy gods vehicles) toll;
  • Expansion of the biofuel market;
  • Aviation and shipping;
  • Reduction of emissions of fluorinated GHGs;
  • Energy research and innovation;
  • International projects on climate mitigation and energy efficiency;
  • Reporting on energy and climate policy by German embassies and consulates; and
  • Transatlantic climate and technology initiative.

In addition, energy consumption in buildings shall be reduced by 30 percent through energy-related requirements and increased renovation rates. Moreover, 850 km of underground grid to transport offshore wind energy to the south were approved through the concept.
Full document available here or as pdf.


According to the Renewables 2017 Global Status Report of REN21, Germany was the fifth largest global investor in renewable power and fuels in 2016. Moreover, Germany was ranked third in total and per capita renewable power generation (excluding hydropower), wind power capacity additions, total and per capita wind power capacity, solar PV capacity, biodiesel production and total bio-power generation. Per capita, Germany has the largest solar PV capacity in the world. Meanwhile, the supply quality of electricity has improved further over recent years despite the growing share of renewable energies.
A critical challenge remains nonetheless the phase-out of coal to reach the climate targets. Lignite and hard coal accounted still for 44 percent of final electricity consumption in 2015. In 2016, a payment mechanism for capacity reserves was introduced, which has been accused to represent a subsidy for the coal industry. In general, the coal phase-out is highly controversial in Germany due to concerns of job losses and economic downturn in affected regions. As a consequence, there is no law so far providing for a phase-out for coal or addressing this issue.

Renewable Energy Sources Act (2000, last revised in 2017)
The Renewable Energy Sources Act (EEG) is the most important instrument for expanding the use of energy from renewable sources and to implement the energy transition (“Energiewende”). Thereby, it covers hydropower including tidal and wave power, wind power, solar power, geothermal power and biomass including biogas. The law provides for the preferential supply of electricity by renewable energies by obliging network operators to take respective electricity. Feed-in tariffs are paid for the owners of the renewable energy production. The compensation rates run over 20 years but are constantly decreasing to incentivise innovation. The consequential levy for consumers of electricity depends on the difference between the guaranteed compensation rate and the price for electricity at the stock market. The Act replaced the Electricity Feed-in Law of 1990, which already required utilities to purchase electricity generated from renewable sources at a tariff tied to market prices and which was the first of its kind in the world. The EEG was revised several times since its adoption in 2000 with the latest amendment made in 2017. It has been a blueprint for numerous similar laws in many other countries.
Renewables targets: The EEG aims to constantly and cost effectively increase the share of renewable energy sources in the German electricity supply. Accordingly, renewable energy shall account for at least 35 percent of electricity supply in 2020, 40 to 45 percent by 2025, 55 to 60 percent by 2035 and 80 percent by 2050. In 2015, renewable energies had a share of 32.6 percent in gross electricity consumption, which is a five-fold increase since 2000. Major renewable sources of electricity generation were wind energy (14.7 percent), followed by bioenergy (8.3 percent) and solar PV (6.4 percent).
2012 Amendment: The amendment introduced tariff digressions of the feed-in tariff, particularly for solar photovoltaic (PV). In addition, it promoted the direct marketing of renewable energies and provided funding for a R&D programme for the storage of electricity. Moreover, exemptions for energy-intensive enterprises from the levy to prevent adverse impacts on their competitiveness were substantially broadened. 2.5 times more enterprises were exempted than before, which has raised the levy for the other consumers significantly – in 2013, 25 percent of the levy could be attributed to the exemptions, equalling EUR 4 billion.
2014 Amendment: As part of the EEG 2014, target corridors were defined for the deployment of wind, solar PV and biomass. Before 2014, there were no caps but only minimum targets to be achieved. Consequently, net annual growth corridor targets of onshore wind power amounts to 2.5 GW. The targeted offshore wind power capacity was reduced from 10 GW to 6.5 GW by 2020. For solar power, a gross annual growth corridor target of 2.5 GW was introduced, for biomass the objective of only 100 MW. The reform was motivated by the strive to ensure affordability of electricity in the light of the constantly rising levy, cost efficiency and economic viability. Moreover, the amendment enables the states to decide over minimum distances of wind energy plants and residential areas. Beyond that, the revision mandated the direct marketing for new installations. This means that the majority of new renewable power plants will not receive fixed feed-in tariffs anymore. Instead, producers of renewable electricity are in principle obliged to sell their electricity directly. They obtain support in the form of market premiums paid on top of the market price for electricity, substantially covering the gap to the feed-in tariff amount. Until 31 December 2016, the market premiums were still determined by the amount of the feed-in tariffs. For the time afterwards, the reform laid the foundation for tendering of support. Hence, financial support for renewable energy sources is determined through auctions by 2017. In moving towards the auction/tender-based system, pilot projects of freestanding solar PV power plants were already initiated in 2015 to gain experiences in auctioning for the tasked Federal Network Agency. Last but not least, the amendment removed several exemptions for energy-intensive consumers, although the amount was not reduced to pre-2012 levels.
2017 Amendment: The latest revision of the law finally introduced the auction/tendering system for onshore and offshore wind, solar PV and biomass, with installations smaller than 0.75 MW being exempted. Onshore wind was capped to 2.8 GW per year until 2019 and 2.9 GW from 2020. Offshore wind shall reach a total capacity of 15 GW by 2030 (reduced from 25 GW), with the sites determined by the government to ensure an optimal grid connection. The annual growth corridor targets for solar power and biomass were not altered compared to 2014.
The amendments of 2014 and 2017 have led to strong criticism as it was contended that the target corridors would be too low in order to achieve the climate mitigation goals of Germany. Moreover, it was claimed that the tendering would endanger the energy transition promoted by citizens and cooperatives (50 percent of renewable energy capacity is owned by private citizens and farmers) and the security of investments.
Full document available here (in German).

Law on the Amendment of Regulations on Water and Nature Protection to Prohibit and Minimise the Risk of the Fracking Technology 2016
The law bans commercial unconventional hydraulic fracturing for the production of shale gas and shale oil. Nevertheless, limited test drillings are allowed to be continued as well as the conventional (traditional) hydraulic fracturing in sandstone for the production of gas. However, more stringent standards apply for the latter undertakings. In 2021, the Parliament shall reassess the ban and decide over its maintenance.
Full document available here (in German).

Renewable Energies Heat Act 2008 (last revised in 2015)
The Act, which entered into force on 1 January 2009, aims at fostering the use of renewable energy for heating and cooling supply by improving energy efficiency and switching to renewable energy sources. About half of the energy consumed in Germany is used for heat supply and cooling systems. Hence, the law introduces the obligation to rely upon renewable energies to a certain percentage in the heat supply and cooling system when constructing new buildings and in case of existing public buildings undergoing major renovations. The share of renewable energy required for new buildings depends on the source of energy. In case of the utilisation of solar radiation, solar energy must account for at least 15 percent of the heating and cooling demand. If gaseous biomass is chosen, it has to reach a share of at least 30 percent. For all other renewable energies, a target of at least 50 percent applies. These thresholds are lower for public buildings that undergo major renovations (namely, 25 percent for gaseous biomass and 15 percent for the others). The owner of the building can choose the sources of renewable energy or combinations of them in order to allow the possibility to find an individually tailored, cost-effective solution. In addition, the Act allows alternative ways to cover the obligations, such as the use of at least 50 percent of waste heat or combined heat and power (CHP) as well as through energy saving measures, district heating and remote cooling energy. As a consequence, a share of 14 percent of renewable energies in the heating and cooling supply shall be reached by 2020.
The legislation provides also financial support to homeowners of up to EUR 500 million per year between 2009 and 2012. This financial commitment is part of the Market Incentive Programme introduced in 1999 to serve the expansion of heating and cooling generation from biomass, solar power and geothermal energy. Actually, the programme redistributes the income of eco tax, which applies to all source of electricity generation in Germany, through capital grants or low-interest loans for smaller installations and redemption grants for larger installations or infrastructures. Moreover, revenues are drawn from the auctioning of emission allowances under the EU ETS. In 2015, the programme was revised and improved.
Full document available here (in German).

Power Grid Expansion Act 2009 and Grid Expansion Acceleration Act 2011
The both laws aim to facilitate grid expansion to improve the connectivity and capacity for more renewable energies. This relates particularly to transmission grids transporting electricity from the windy regions in the North to the high-demand areas in the South. The Power Grid Expansion Act gives preference to 22 projects of grid expansion and regulates the use of underground cables. The Grid Expansion Acceleration Law contains several measures intended to shorten the time required for the planning and approval procedures for high voltage lines, while at the same time involving local stakeholders and providing sufficient transparency.
Full document available here (2009 law in German) and here (2011 law in German).

Energy Industry Act 2005 (last revised in 2011)
The law aims at providing secure, affordable, efficient and environmentally sound supplies of electricity and gas as well as ensuring competition in the electricity and gas supply. As such, it represents the legal basis for several ordinances, such as the Gas Grid Access Ordinance 2005 (last revised in 2017) and the Gas Grid Fee Ordinance 2005 (last revised in 2017). The rules contained in the both mentioned ordinances aim to simplify the procedure of feeding biogas into the gas grid next to the main objective of liberalising the gas market. Beyond that, the law aims to create a stronger foundation for smart grids and storage facilities. Additionally, it requires the labelling of electricity to put consumers into the position to make better-informed decisions.
Full document available here (in German).

Energy Concept for an Environmentally Sound, Reliable and Affordable Energy Supply 2010 and Atomic Energy Act 2010/2011
The Energy Concept included an extension of the operation of nuclear reactors by an average of 12 years as well as the expansion of renewable energy sources. As a consequence, the Atomic Energy Act was amended to include the lifetime extension of the nuclear power plants. However, following the Fukushima nuclear disaster in 2011, the government decided to return to the original plans of phasing out nuclear energy by 2022. However, the ambition for the development and utilisation of renewable energy sources was not increased. This was put into law again with an amendment to the Atomic Energy Act in 2011. In the beginnings of the 2000s, nuclear energy still provided almost 30 percent of the electricity supply.
The Energy Concept includes the targets to reduce GHG emissions by 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2020, by 55 percent until 2030, by 70 percent until 2040 and by 80 to 95 percent until 2050. Moreover, renewable energies shall account for 60 percent of final energy consumption and 80 percent of electricity generation by 2050. In the transport sector, final energy consumption shall be reduced by 40 percent until 2050 compared to 2005. Moreover, primary energy consumption shall be cut by 50 percent and electricity consumption by 25 percent until 2050. In the building sector, 80 percent of primary energy consumption shall be saved until 2050, based on a nearly climate-neutral building stock and a doubling of the energy-related modernisation rate of 2 percent per year. Finally yet importantly, energy productivity is supposed to be raised by 2.1 percent per year up to 2050.
Energy concept available here (in German) and as pdf (in English). Atomic Energy Act available here (in German).

Ordinance on the Award of Public Contracts 2016 (last revised in 2017)
The ordinance regulates the allocation of public contracts. Thereby, it includes inter alia stringent energy efficiency criteria for procurement.
Full document available here (in German).

Combined Heat and Power Act 2002 (last revised in 2016)
The law sets out the target to reach a 25 percent share of total conventional energy generated through CHP plants in the electricity and heat generation by 2020, up from 12 percent in 2008. It also aims to support the launch of the fuel cell sector and provides funding for the construction and expansion of heating and cooling systems by a feed paid by consumers.
Full document available here (in German).

Energy Saving Act 1976 (last revised in 2013)
The law is the basis for the energy efficiency policy in the building sector, such as the Energy Saving Ordinance and the Heating Cost Ordinance.
The Energy Saving Ordinance of 2007 (last revised in 2015) tightens the restrictions on primary energy use and transmission heat loss in the building sector. Moreover, it provides for the harmonisation of standards by 2020 for new buildings with the European standard for nearly zero-energy buildings, whereby the low amount of energy requires should be met by renewable energy sources.
The Heat Cost Ordinance of 2009 aims to foster energy saving behaviour among tenants of rented premises and regulates in general the billing of heating costs.
Full document available here (in German).

Energy Labelling Act 1997 (last revised in 2012)
The law provides the basis for energy labelling in Germany as it stipulates the labelling requirements for products with regard to their energy consumption and their carbon footprint. The 2012 amendment implemented the EU Directive on Energy Performance into national law.


Due to being a member of the EU, the EU ETS provides for carbon pricing in Germany. The Greenhouse Gas Emisions Trading Act of 2011 (last revised in 2013) is the legal framework for the implementation of the EU Emission Trading Directive (full document available here or as pdf). There are no further pricing mechanisms of carbon or other GHGs, except of the mineral oil tax.


National Platform Electric Mobility 2010
The platform constitutes an advisory council to the federal government with representatives of the industry, science, politics, trade unions and other organisations. The common goal is to make Germany a leader in e-mobility, both in terms of production and market. Until 2020, one million electric vehicles shall drive in Germany. However, as of 2017, there are only 60,000 electric vehicles sold and Chancellor Merkel has said that she does not believe the target can still be met.

Biofuel Quota Act 2006 and Law on the Amendment of the Promotion of Biofuels 2009
The Quota Act introduced the requirement of a minimum use of biofuels. It transposed several EU directives addressing biofuels, which require reaching 10 percent of renewable energies in the transport sector by 2020, into national law. Moreover, it represents the legal basis for the targets of achieving 8 percent of biofuels in energy content by 2015 and 17 percent by 2020. For this purpose, the Act introduced a growing minimum quota for the use of biofuels in motor vehicles, which amounted to 5.25 percent for 2009 and to 6.25 percent until 2014. In addition, specific quotas for petrol and diesel fuel of 2.8 or 4.4 percent of energy content were applied respectively.
The Amendment Law of 2009 changed many of the provisions contained in the Quota Act. Moreover, the Ordinance on the Requirements for a Sustainable Production of Biofuels of 2009 transposed the EU Renewable Energy Directive requirements on sustainable biofuel production into national law. It establishes sustainability criteria for liquefied and gaseous fuels made of biomass. Furthermore, from January 2011, a certification process has been introduced for all companies producing biofuels, in order to prove that their production meet these sustainability criteria.
In 2015, the quota was abandoned and replaced by simple emission reduction goals for the fuel consumption (3.5 percent annually from 2015 on and 6 percent per year beginning in 2020), following the decarbonisation strategy of the EU.


At the base of the German waste legislation is the “product responsibility”, which builds upon the polluter pays principle and stimulates producers and distributors to design products that reduce waste occurrence and allow the environmentally sound recovery and disposal of residual substances.

Federal Immission Control Act 2002
The Act has the objective to protect human beings, animals and plants, soil, water, the atmosphere as well as cultural objects and other material goods against any harmful effects on the environment and to prevent the emergence of any such effects. In the case of installations subject to licensing, this Act requires the participation of the waste management sector in order to achieve a high level of protection for the environment as a whole.

Act for Promoting Closed Substance Cycle Waste Management and Ensuring Environmentally Compatible Waste Disposal 1994
The Act aims primarily to ensure the complete avoidance and recovery of waste. Otherwise, waste must be subjected to substance recycling or used to obtain energy (energy recovery). Therefore, the Act establishes that the owners or generators of waste are primarily responsible for waste avoidance, recovery, and disposal. Based on this Act, the Federal government issued a number of statutory ordinances, guidelines and voluntary agreements. In particular, these include:

  • Provisions on product responsibility (packaging, batteries, end-of-life vehicles, waste oil, electric and electronic appliances);
  • Requirements governing the environmentally compatible recovery of waste (regulated by the Commercial Wastes Ordinance, the Waste Wood Ordinance and the Ordinance on Underground Waste Stowage);
  • Requirements governing the environmentally compatible disposal of waste (Ordinance on Environmentally Compatible Storage of Waste from Human Settlements and on Biological Waste Treatment Facilities and Landfill Ordinance).

Full document available as pdf (in English).


The Forest and Climate Fund of the Federal Ministry for Education and Research funds several projects in the AFOLU sector. Moreover, the project ‘Interdependencies between Land Use and Climate Strategies for a Sustainable Land Use Management in Germany’ of the Ministry, which ran from 2010 until 2015, evaluated the mitigation and adaptation potential of various land management strategies in the AFOLU sector.


Strategy for Adaptation to Climate Change 2007
The strategy lays the foundation for a medium-term national adaptation process to identify the effects of climate change, assess the risks, and develop and implement adaptation measures. The goal of the adaptation strategy is to mitigate vulnerability to the consequences of climate change, and preserve or increase the adaptability of natural, social and economic systems. As such, the strategy represents the framework and guiding document for adapting to climate change impacts and describes primarily the contribution of the federal level.
Full document available here (in German) or as pdf (in English).

Adaptation Action Plan of the German Adaptation Strategy 2011
The action plan sets out adaptation activities at the national level and activities undertaken by the federal government, which are jointly initiated with the 16 states. The objective of the Adaptation Action Plan is to promote the concrete application of the Strategy for Adaptation to Climate Change, to specify priority activities for the federal government, and to set out future steps for development and implementation of the adaptation strategy. The action plan covers activities in four fields:

  1. Providing knowledge, informing, enabling
  2. Framework setting by the German Federal Government
  3. Activities for which the Federal Government is directly responsible
  4. International responsibilities

The action plan also includes a funding scheme to promote climate change adaptation at individual company and local authority level.
Full document available here (in German) or as pdf (in English).


The state of North Rhine-Westphalia was the first state to adopt a climate law in 2013. However, the law will be scrubbed to include only the climate goals and measures on the EU level as set out in the coalition agreement of the conservative party (CDU) and the liberal party (FDP) after the elections in 2017. They also intend to reduce massively the expansion of wind power plants by enlarging the minimum distance required between the plants and residential areas, which corresponds to a decrease of suitable areas of 80 percent.

The state of Baden-Württemberg has also adopted a climate law in 2013. Accordingly, CO2 emissions shall be reduced by 25 percent until 2020 and by 90 percent until 2050. It also lays the foundation for a state-level climate adaptation strategy and an integrated concept on energy and climate.

The state of Bavaria has issued a Climate Programme 2020. According to this document, the annual energy-related CO2 emissions shall be reduced to below 6 tonnes per capita by 2020. In addition, the energy productivity shall be increased by 30 percent in the same time period. Moreover, the share of renewable energies in final energy consumption shall be doubled to 20 percent and in electricity generation to 50 percent until 2020. Besides, the programme addresses climate adaptation, particularly forest conversion and water management including flood prevention.
Beyond that, there is a Climate Policy Programme 2050, which sets the target to reduce annual per capita GHG emissions to less than two tonnes.


Main sources

Website of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi)

Website of the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety (BMUB)

Energy Transition – The German Energiewende, Heinrich Böll Foundation.

German profile on the European Climate Adaptation Platform (Climate-ADAPT)

Country profile of Germany on the website of the Grantham Institute on Climate Change and the Environment

Roehrkasten, S. and Steinbacher, K. (2016): ‘Germany: Promoting an Energiewende Domestically and Globally’. In Roehrkasten, S., Thielges, S. and Quitzow, R. (eds.): ‘Sustainable Energy in the G20. Prospects for a Global Energy Transition.’, Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies (IASS), Potsdam.

International Policy

General features

  • Party to the UNFCCC (Annex I)
    • Date of signature: 12 June 1992
    • Date of ratification: 9 December 1993
    • Date of entry into force: 21 March 1994
  • Member of the Kyoto Protocol
    • Date of signature: 29 April 1998
    • Date of ratification: 31 May 2002
    • Date of entry into force: 16 February 2005
    • Date of Acceptance Doha Amendment: —
    • During the first commitment period until 2012, the EU as a whole committed to reduce its emissions by 8 percent compared to 1990 levels. Germany has met its national goal to contribute to this target of reducing GHG emissions by 7.4% below 1990 levels. During the second commitment period until 2020, the EU as a whole has to reduce its emissions by 20 percent compared to 1990. Following the Effort Sharing Decision of the EU, Germany needs to reduce its GHG emissions by 14 percent compared to 2005 levels until 2020. Germany has set a more ambitious target than this on the national level (see section on ‘National Policy’).
  • Signatory of the Copenhagen Accord (according to the communication of the EU, it is strived for a 20 percent reduction compared to 1990 on the level of the EU as the Copenhagen Pledge; 30 percent in the case of comparable commitments by other industrialised countries and adequate contributions by advanced developing countries)
  • Party to the Paris Agreement
    • Date of signature: 22 April 2016
    • Date of ratification: 5 October 2016
    • Date of entry into force: 04 November 2016
  • Post 2020 action
    • The EU submitted its Intended Nationally-Determined Contribution (INDC) in advance of COP21 (Paris), on 6 March 2015 as the first Party (for more information on INDCs see here). Following the ratification and the entry into force of the Paris Agreement, the INDC has become the first Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) of the EU and Germany. The collective target of the EU in its INDC is to reduce emissions by 40 percent until 2030 compared to 1990 levels.

Bilateral cooperation

  • Germany is globally renowned for its progressive position in tackling climate change and for its technological expertise. The promotion of renewable energies and of energy efficiency are also key priorities of the German bilateral cooperation with other countries, which is strongly linked to climate change mitigation. Overall, the electricity sector is the main focus. In 2014, Germany was the largest provider of ODA in the energy sector in the world. Respective funds have been expanded significantly (ten-fold since 200), amounting to more than EUR two billion in 2013. As a commitment to the Sustainable Energy for All (SE4All) Initiative, this number shall increase to EUR 3.6 billion in 2030. In total, Germany supports more than 50 countries in the field of sustainable energy, with 24 focus areas for cooperation. Emphasis is put on the bilateral energy partnerships with 12 strategically important countries (namely Algeria, Brazil, China, India, Mexico, Morocco, Nigeria, Norway, Russia, South Africa, Tunisia and Turkey), which shall also serve the improvement of the business environment in the respective countries for German companies.
  • Germany has a strong bilateral partnership with India. There is an Indo-German development cooperation programme on Energy, Environment and Sustainable Development, but also the Indo-German Energy Forum;
  • Germany has pledged to double its climate finance until 2020 based on 2014 levels. However, there is frequent criticism that the funds are not additional, as they are drawn from ordinary development cooperation.
  • The International Climate Initiative (IKI) of the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety (BMUB) supports climate and biodiversity projects in developing countries, emerging economies and the transition countries of Central and Eastern Europe. It was initially funded by the revenues from the auctioning of emission allowances. As these revenues have not been sufficiently high, further funds were made available through the Special Energy and Climate Fund of the Ministry’s regular budget. The IKI funds projects in the areas of climate mitigation (50 percent of funding) and adaptation (22 percent), REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from deforestation and forest degradation and the role of conservation, sustainable management of forests and enhancement of forest carbon stocks in developing countries; 15 percent) and the conservation of biological diversity (10 percent; remainder of 3 percent constitutes administrative costs). Since 2008, the IKI has supported more than 500 projects as of April 2017 with a budget of EUR 2.3 billion. Monitoring and reporting shall ensure the continued measurement of success.
  • The Climate Protection Programme (CaPP) provides support to developing countries to enable them to fulfil their commitments under the UNFCCC.
  • Together with Norway and the United Kingdom, Germany pledged at COP21 to provide more than US-$ 5 billion from 2015 to 2020 for results-based payments supporting REDD+ activities in countries with ambitious and high-quality proposals (see here for further information on Germany’s funding activities in the forest sector)
  • Germany is the initiator of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) and the founder and main financer of the global multi-stakeholder Renewable Energy Policy Network for the 21st Century (REN21). It is also a member of the International Energy Agency (IEA).Germany initially co-chairs as one of the founding members the NDC Partnership. The Partnership was launched at COP22 and consists of both developing and developed countries. It strives to facilitate the implementation of NDCs and sustainable development commitments for achieving the SDGs.
  • Germany has used its G7/G8 presidencies to promote the decarbonisation of the global energy supply. Moreover, during the German presidencies initiatives have been launched. For instance, the G7 leaders pledged at the summit in Elmau in 2015 to provide insurance coverage for up to 400 million people in vulnerable developing countries against the negative impacts of climate change (which has also resulted in the InsuResilience initiative) and to accelerate access to renewable energy in Africa and developing countries in other regions (which has contributed to the establishment of the African Renewable Energy Initiative). Germany also belongs to the G20 as well as to the Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate.
  • Germany is a founding member of Mission Innovation and hence aims to double expenditures on clean energy research by 2020.
  • Moreover, Germany is a member of the Global Methane Initiative (GMI), which aims to reduce methane emissions, and of the Climate and Clean Air Coalition (CCAC), which strives to reduce emissions from short-lived climate pollutants, such as black carbon, methane, tropospheric ozone and HFCs.
  • Germany has also joined the Carbon Pricing Leadership Coalition (CPLC) and the Carbon Sequestration Leadership Forum (CSLF).

Negotiating position

The EU constitutes itself one negotiation bloc in the international climate negotiations and always speaks solely with one voice. See thus the profile of the European Union for the negotiation positions of Germany in the international climate negotiations.




Main sources and further information

Roehrkasten, S. and Steinbacher, K. (2016): ‘Germany: Promoting an Energiewende Domestically and Globally’. In Roehrkasten, S., Thielges, S. and Quitzow, R. (eds.): ‘Sustainable Energy in the G20. Prospects for a Global Energy Transition.’, Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies (IASS), Potsdam.

Website on climate finance of the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development

Website on German climate finance of several German NGOs.