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 anything to show.

The “climate protection plan”, as it is officially called, is intended to set the basis of how Germany wants to reach its goal of cutting CO2 emissions by up to 95 percent by 2050 compared to 1990. It represents an example of a “long-term greenhouse gas emission development strategy” that parties are urged to prepare in the Paris Agreement.

According to Deutsche Welle, the plan has been accused to have been watered-down, as it has abandoned specific timetables to phase-out coal power plants. An earlier draft of the plan proclaimed to exit coal-fired power plants well before 2050 and the creation of a “coal commission” to present proposals for a reasoned transition.

In addition, sectoral reduction targets have been considerably lessened, as is the case in the transport sector. Climate Home reports that while the plan once demanded the majority of newly registered cars in 2030 to be powered by electricity or biofuels, a newer September’s version only stated the willingness to lower car emissions significantly by 2030.

Meanwhile, Germany is on the way of missing its reduction target of 40 percent by 2020 compared to 1990. This casts long shadows on the credibility of one-time pioneer Germany, famous and gazed for its “Energiewende”. Also, the dilution of the plan might let Angela Merkel suffer in her reputation as “climate chancellor”. Reuters emphasizes that the resistance of several ministers and the absence of Merkel in the debate might be attributed to the approaching national elections in September 2017.

The climate action plan is generally seen as a process; measures shall be reviewed on a regular basis. As a government spokesman told Reuters, the sectoral reduction targets are supposed to be readjusted already as early as in 2018. Moreover, the approved version of the document still contains the creation of a commission assigned to focus on structural change, but under the aegis of the Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy instead of the Ministry for Environment, according to the German newspaper Der Spiegel.


(Image: Solarpark Burgweisach. Credit: Windwärts Energie/Flickr)